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.