Vinalhaven’s town wharf was abuzz with excitement on the afternoon of August 12 as Prock Marine delivered the first four of nine wind turbine blades for the three, 1.5 megawatt wind turbines being built on the island. About 100 people gathered to watch the spectacle.
Prock Marine’s barge Prock 9 entered Carver’s Harbor guided by the tugboat Dorothy L. around 3:15 pm to take advantage of the high tide. Docking the barge and adjusting the ramps took approximately a half hour, during which time the initial crowd of 50 spectators swelled to 100 or more.
The general reaction to seeing the blades was one of surprise. Most people were shocked at how big the 123-foot blades actually are. “It really puts into perspective how big [the wind turbines] are going to be,” said local lobsterman Kyle Doughty.
Vinalhaven High School science teacher Meg Lyons watched the event with enthusiasm. “I think it’s exciting for the island to be able to generate our own power,” she said. “I’m hoping to take my physics class up to the site in the fall, and I’m hoping to tie the wind project into both my physics and earth science classes.”
Wyman Philbrook, a 24-year board member of the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative, was also on hand to witness the unloading of the blades. “It’s quite a difference from the days of chicken wire,” he said. “We’ve been through two cables, now we’re talking wind. It’s amazing, really.”
The General Electric blades originated in Brazil, were shipped to Eastport, and were trucked from Eastport to Rockland. “We were really lucky to get them,” Philbrook said, referring to the high worldwide demand for wind turbines. Prock’s barge carried two trailers, each holding two blades. It took close to 90 minutes to unload both trailers. Islanders and summer visitors snapped non-stop photos of the process.
Four more blades came to Rockland and were barged to Vinalhaven on August 14. On the afternoon of August 15, about 150 to 200 North Haven and Vinalhaven residents toured the construction site. The final blade arrived in Rockland on August 17.
Construction on the wind power project began in June at the 75-acre site on the north side of Vinalhaven, commissioned by the Fox Islands Electric Cooperative. When finished, the three turbines will generate roughly the total amount of electricity used by North Haven and Vinalhaven. The cable to the mainland will still be used to sell excess power and to purchase power when the wind is not meeting the two islands’ demand.
Cianbro is the project’s general contractor. The Island Institute, which publishes Working Waterfront, assisted in the financing and permitting process and helped with community involvement.
According to Chad Allen, Cianbro Project Manager, the construction of the turbines is “going wonderfully. It’s going very well.” Allen said the roads are complete, and the aerial poles for the electric collection system are in place. The final foundation, for turbine 3, was poured on August 18. Components currently on site include the nine turbine blades, three hubs, 3 down-tower assemblies and one mid-section for a tower.
Many construction projects fall behind schedule early on, but Allen said “so far, so good” time-wise. Allen was not anticipating any weather-related delays in the fall. He expects the project to be far enough along to avoid most weather-related problems.