Michels Completes Largest On-shore Wind Turbine

February 2009 Vol. 64 No.2

Remember when Dorothy arrived in Oz and said she had a feeling she wasn’t in Kansas anymore? Drop Dorothy, today, just eight miles south of Concordia in central Kansas and she may say the same thing.

The recently completed Meridian Way Wind Farm sits at 1,650 feet of elevation in Cloud County and has 67 Vestas V90 3.0MW turbines – the largest on shore wind turbine currently installed in the United States.

After successfully winning a competitively bid project, Michels Wind Energy was approached by Texas based, wind farm developer and operator, Horizon Wind Energy, in the late part of 2007 with a “balance of plant” contract. The BOP was signed in February of 2008 and work began shortly after that on the 201 megawatt wind farm.

This wasn’t the first project Michels Wind Energy and Horizon Wind have worked together on. Horizon hired Michels as the BOP contractor to construct 120, 1.65MW wind turbine generators, (WTG) in Twin Groves, IL. That project’s BOP work was also successfully completed last summer.
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Heavy rains

Crews from Michels arrived on the Meridian Way job site to begin construction during what turned out to be the rainiest year in Kansas’ history. “When we arrived in February, it was cold and snowed almost every day,” says Project Manager Scott Robinson.

Despite the cold weather, crews went to work on building a 23 acre lay-down yard. In late March and early April, just when the snow started to melt, the record breaking rains began. “Sometimes the rain would turn into hail but either way, all of our teams decided it would be for the best if we just keep forging ahead, despite the weather – or at least until we couldn’t anymore,” adds Michels Civil Project Assistant Tyler Sutton.

The first task was to begin reconstruction on 16 miles of the local county road. Michels put their safety people into place and crews went to work. After the county road upgrades were completed, work began on 20 miles worth of access roads. Both tasks were completed ahead of schedule.

Working in heavy rains is unusual for those who spend the majority of their time working in dirt. One of the biggest challenges workers faced while dealing with the unusual stormy weather was preparing for the rain while work on the wind farm progressed. “We needed to stay one step ahead of the weather and make sure people stayed safe by filling in any holes around the job site and then moving onto whatever else needed to be done,” says Robinson.