Kodiak Daily Mirror - As trucks run through town towers rise on Pillar Mountain
  
As trucks run through town, towers rise on Pillar Mountain
by James Brooks
Aug 03, 2012 | 279 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An enormous Manitowoc 16000 crawler crane is backdropped by Pillar Mountain's three wind turbines Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. The crane is expected to begin setting up another three wind turbines atop the mountain today and continue work through the weekend.
(James Brooks photo)
An enormous Manitowoc 16000 crawler crane is backdropped by Pillar Mountain's three wind turbines Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. The crane is expected to begin setting up another three wind turbines atop the mountain today and continue work through the weekend. (James Brooks photo)
slideshow
A Manitowoc 16000 crawler crane towers above Pillar Mountain on Thursday, August 2, 2012. The 327-foot-tall crane, which has a lifting capacity of 440 tons, will be in busy operation through the weekend as workers erect the next three wind turbine towers atop Pillar Mountain.
(James Brooks photo)
A Manitowoc 16000 crawler crane towers above Pillar Mountain on Thursday, August 2, 2012. The 327-foot-tall crane, which has a lifting capacity of 440 tons, will be in busy operation through the weekend as workers erect the next three wind turbine towers atop Pillar Mountain. (James Brooks photo)
slideshow
A danger sign warns onlookers away from the wind turbine construction site atop Pillar Mountain on Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. While the site was quiet Thursday, the activity will pick up today and continue through the weekend as workers start to erect the enormous turbine towers.
(James Brooks photo)
A danger sign warns onlookers away from the wind turbine construction site atop Pillar Mountain on Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. While the site was quiet Thursday, the activity will pick up today and continue through the weekend as workers start to erect the enormous turbine towers. (James Brooks photo)
slideshow
A road grader is seen in front of one of Pillar Mountain's wind turbines Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. The grader, which was used to put one final smoothing on Pillar Mountain Road, will be on standby Friday to help pull semitrailers loaded with turbine parts up the road.
(James Brooks photo)
A road grader is seen in front of one of Pillar Mountain's wind turbines Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012. The grader, which was used to put one final smoothing on Pillar Mountain Road, will be on standby Friday to help pull semitrailers loaded with turbine parts up the road. (James Brooks photo)
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These thick bolts, seen Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012, will support the tower of Pillar Mountain Wind Turbine No. 3, which is scheduled to rise above Pillar Mountain on Friday.
(James Brooks photo)
These thick bolts, seen Thursday afternoon, August 2, 2012, will support the tower of Pillar Mountain Wind Turbine No. 3, which is scheduled to rise above Pillar Mountain on Friday. (James Brooks photo)
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Kodiakans have grown accustomed to the sight of the three wind turbines atop Pillar Mountain.

That look will change today.

Early this morning, crews working for the Kodiak Electric Association were expected to begin hauling three more wind turbines from Lash Dock to Pillar Mountain. The turbine parts won’t remain on those trucks for long. By the end of the day, if all goes as planned, three new towers will be standing tall atop Pillar.

“Now let’s just hope Mother Nature cooperates,” said project manager Brad Oliver.

The first of about 20 truckloads of equipment was scheduled to leave Lash Dock at 7:30 a.m., taking Mill Bay Road, Von Scheele and Selief Lane to reach Pillar Mountain Road. “I’m sure it will take them at least an hour to get through town,” Oliver said.

Once atop Pillar, the towers will be erected with an enormous 327-foot-tall crawling crane. Oliver said he expects to get the first two pieces of at least two towers done today, their footings secured into a Loctite-like grout that needs 24 hours to set. Under the best-case scenario, the third will also go up.

Following days will see turbine blades brought to the site, then hoisted into place on nacelles, the horizontal piece atop the turbine tower that rotates with the wind. Under the most optimistic scenario, the turbines will be up by next Wednesday.

Asked about the speed of construction, Oliver had a simple answer: “It helps that we’ve done a few thousand of these.”

Good planning also helps. Oliver has spent weeks drafting a logistical plan that moves things along as quickly as safely possible.

While erecting the towers is expected to take only a week -- weather willing -- it will take more than a month to make the towers operational. Cabling must be strung inside the tall steel columns, and mechanical equipment must be brought online and aligned. According to the latest estimate from KEA, the three new turbines will be generating electricity by September.

In the meantime, Oliver is asking onlookers to stay well away. Pillar Mountain Road will be blocked at the base of the mountain and again at the summit to keep hikers out. With ultra-heavy equipment swinging huge pieces of steel, it isn’t a safe place to be. “The equipment is just so wide, we don’t want to see anyone,” he said.

That shouldn’t be a problem for curious Kodiakans. After all, there’s an easy way to check the project’s progress: Just look up.
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