WEST PARIS — A 240-foot wind turbine tower headed north on Route 26 recently was the third of 22 headed to the Record Hill wind project in Roxbury.
“It's very impressive,” said Angus King, one of the developers of the project. The towers, bases and blades are now being transported as they arrive by ship in Searsport, just northeast of Belfast on the Midcoast.
The wind farm is expected to produce 122 million kilowatt hours per year, which owners say equates to the electricity needs of every household in Oxford County. The project was approved by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2009 and is expected to be producing green energy by the end of the year.
Former Gov. King, who founded Independence Wind with Robert Gardiner, the former director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said the foundations have been laid and the turbine bases are now being put up before the first of the turbines are erected.
“I went up to Searsport to see them unloaded,” King said Friday. The turbines were constructed in Denmark. They are put on large flatbeds with hydraulic lifts that allow the transport vehicle to maneuver safely over roads and bridges.
King said Independence Wind contracted with an engineering firm to develop the route.
The equipment is being shipped about every other day as they arrive in Searsport, project manager Mike Novello said. The Searsport harbor is considered the primary port in Penobscot Bay and has two piers for unloading freighters.
Once the wind turbine parts are loaded onto trucks, Maine State Police escort the trucks. At times roads have to be shut down for short periods. For example, as a truck with a tower was making the turn from Route 219 to Route 26 in West Paris, traffic was stopped for about five minutes.
The 18-axle transport vehicle owned by Anderson Trucking Service, wind energy transportation specialists in Minnesota, has a hydraulic jack to distribute weight better as it goes down the roads and over bridges.
Novello said the jack can be used to lift the weight over certain sections of road or lower the rear of the truck, which can be steered independently. A pickup truck follows the transport vehicle with a second driver in case he or she is needed to steer from behind.
The Maine Department of Transportation oversees the transport over the state roads.
“Everyone hopes to get them through as quickly as possible,” Novello said.