BELFAST, Maine — Mainers had the chance Tuesday to get up close and personal with four giant wind turbine blades traveling down the coast that are ultimately destined to generate electricity on Vinalhaven.
The 123-foot-long blades, carried on two large trucks, started their day in Eastport at 8 a.m. and had made it to Renys Plaza in Belfast by about 1:30 p.m., hitting downtown Ellsworth and Bucksport along the way. An escort from the Maine State Police helped facilitate the journey, but long lines of traffic nonetheless snaked behind the convoy for what appeared to be miles. After circumventing the often traffic-choked downtown Camden using Routes 3, 32 and 17, the turbines headed toward Rockland and the Prock Marine Terminal. That is where they are to be loaded onto a barge today for transport to Vinalhaven.
Cathy Bradbury of Winterport was eating lunch at Wasses Hot Dogs in Belfast just a few feet from the turbine convoy. She said she was surprised — but pleased — to see the blades headed south.
“I’m all in favor of clean energy,” she said. “I hope it’s going to be as successful as [former] Governor [angus] King and the University of Maine think it is.”
Cianbro Corp. was hired to build the $14 million project that will bring wind power to the Fox Islands, a project intended to stabilize energy costs for residents of Vinalhaven and North Haven. Once built, the three wind turbines should produce enough electricity to provide power to both islands’ 1,500 year-round residents and enable them to slice in half the amount of electricity imported from the mainland.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Cianbro Corp. spokesman Alan Grover, who was filming the turbines’ transport. “They’re engineering marvels, and when you get up close to them, you see how giant they are.”
Grover said that the turbines weren’t sent by barge from Eastport primarily because it was faster to bring them overland and also because it would have entailed a lot more work with cranes.
“The key thing is that we just wouldn’t have been able to meet our schedule by barge,” Grover said.
George Baker, CEO of Fox Island Wind, said in a press release that he was grateful for the patience of residents as the turbines and other components travel down the coast.
“We realize that transporting such large components can create inconvenience for the traveling public,” Baker said. “But we’ve worked with all the proper agencies and parties to minimize the disruption. This project will pay off in big benefits both for the environment and for our island neighbors in the form of a stable power supply in the future.”
Two weeks ago, Rockland police officials said there will be 15 more loads of wind-tower parts that will be either extremely long or wide. The next delivery is tentatively scheduled for Friday, with five turbine blades traveling the same route from Eastport on three oversized trailers.
Rockland Deputy Police Chief Wally Tower said Tuesday he wasn’t anticipating any major traffic obstructions as the trailers passed through town, though the neighborhoods on North Main and Cedar streets might be affected at times during the scheduled deliveries. Some tree branches may need to be trimmed, and overhead communication wires might be raised to allow the large loads to pass. That work would be done by the city at Cianbro’s expense, Tower said last month.