Wind farms on schedule for completion by 2017

Construction is in full swing north of New England on the Brady Wind I and Brady Wind II projects by NextEra Energy Resources.

Construction workers surround the assembeled turbine blade as they attach it to the crane to be placed on top of the tower. Nearly 300 employees are working day and night shifts to complete both the Brady Wind I and the Brady Wind II projects. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
Construction workers surround the assembeled turbine blade as they attach it to the crane to be placed on top of the tower. Nearly 300 employees are working day and night shifts to complete both the Brady Wind I and the Brady Wind II projects. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

Construction is in full swing north of New England on the Brady Wind I and Brady Wind II projects by NextEra Energy Resources. Together, 159 turbines will be erected in Stark and Hettinger counties, generating hundreds of megawatts of power. With over 40 turbines already raised, Brady I is 65 percent complete. Foundations are now being poured for Brady II.

“It’s amazing to actually see it happening, see the turbines going up, see the construction crew out here and know that this really awesome project is finally going to be built,” Project Director Melissa Hochmuth said.

Two construction crew members stand on the arranged rebar that framed up the base of a turbine. The large arm delivers wet concrete to the framed base. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
Two construction crew members stand on the arranged rebar that framed up the base of a turbine. The large arm delivers wet concrete to the framed base. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

The crew of about 280 constructions workers are now working day and night, and battling the elements, which ironically includes wind. Site manager Dick Rausch said that if winds are over 20 mph, it becomes a safety hazard and they have to cease construction.

Crews began work on Brady Wind II and it is slated to be online by the end of the year; and it all starts with the base of each turbine. Rausch said it takes 33 truckloads of concrete for each foundation to fill the 325 cubic feet base area, and said that crews can proceed further on the each turbine after almost a week of curing.

He also estimated about 11,000 trips for component delivery.

“We’ll probably end up with close to 1 million man hours with this project by the time we’re completed,” Rausch said.

The transmission line that will bring the power to the grid is also nearing completion, Rausch said.

Obstacles during the process have been a minimum Rausch said. And Hochmuth said that can be attributed to the extensive development process prior to starting construction.

“All the work goes into the development phase…all of that upfront design work and planning that’s done during development provides construction with a project that they’re able to construct with a lot of that work that has already been done, and so it really comes down to executing those plans that are put together during development,” Hochmuth said.

She said that sometimes planning and development can take longer than actual construction, but added that it depends on the individual project.

The project has also brought business to local vendors. NextEra typically uses some local companies to complete work, that includes Edward H. Schwartz Construction, and the city of New England along with a handful of Dickinson vendors for Brady Wind II.

NextEra has nearly $500 million invested in both projects and should generate $40 million in tax revenue over the next 30 years with $50 million in revenue to land owners over the life of the project, and Hochmuth sees that unfolding now.

“We’re seeing that begin out here with this construction,” Hochmuth said.

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