Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wind Turbines Come to Zeeland's Helder Park

Green energy comes to Zeeland, and thanks to a couple of malfunctioning cranes on Friday, I was privileged to watch the second turbine installed in Zeeland's Helder Park on Monday. The Zeeland Board of Public Works arranged for this installation to start the township down the path of looking at alternative energy for their fuel needs. Although these two turbines won't account for a massive amount of power, the experiment is to show people that they can be part of an overall energy plan for the future.

At full speed, they should provide enough power for 20, 22 homes," said Don Muller, the utility's electric operations manager.

The 180,000 kilowatts the turbines will generate annually will account for about 1 percent of the BPW's electric generating capacity, he said.

The Zeeland BPW has a 25-year lease for the site from Holland Township. The utility contracted with Entegrity Wind Systems Inc., a Canadian firm, to build the turbines for about $500,000, Muller said.

"They've been forward-thinking and proactive in addressing energy issues," said Andrew Trapenese, director of operations for Entegrity, which has built about 140 turbines, including more than 100 in the U.S.

According to the Press, these are 25-foot turbines mounted on a 120-foot pole. They are positioned at the end of Helder Park and don't stand much taller than the stadium-style lighting that is used to illuminate the soccer fields there. Entegrity manufactures in Canada - but these turbines will be monitored and controlled over the internet through the office in Boulder, Colorado, once they flip the switch and start them running on Wednesday. Kent Power out of Kent City handled the installation - thanks goes out to them for letting me hang out and watch, and giving me some information about how they install and how it all works afterwards. Watch the slideshow, or jump below for details...

Blade Box

The blades come in a box, using the crane to pick them out and help position on the head.

Prep for Blade Installation

Prepping the blade for installation.

Blade Install 2

Most all the guys (and gals) on the crew help position the blade - and yes, these are Michigan workers out of Kent City.

Take 'Er Up

After all three blades are installed, they arrange the straps on the head to get ready to lift...


After pulling the top upright, they work on the wires below to get them ready to hook to the wires in the base. One guy is up on the pole at this point, standing on a platform strapped to the tower. He will be the one who hooks it all up.

Up and Away

Up and away!

Hook Up

Hooking up the wires. 6500 pounds of turbine above.


Two guys stand on opposite sides of the turbine tower with ropes to help line up the positioning. The top is heavy enough that it stays in place once dropped, and the joints interlock. No bolts necessary. When they do drop the top, the second joint in the tower settles as well, and the whole thing drops down a few feet.

Positioning 2

And it's dropped in place. Pole guy climbs up at this point to take off the straps and do some finishing touches. The first finished turbine is in the background.


Straps off, the crane pulls away, and a salute to the crew below. Troy Kent of Kent Power tells me these are "trailing blades", and they can sense where the wind is coming from and adjust accordingly, actually pointing the head away from the wind source.

All Done

All done!

Flickr set here.