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Green Mountain turbine tour

Last month a caravan of flat-bed trucks transported a load of eight 1.3 MW Nordex turbines from the docks in Philadelphia to an old coal strip mine 480 kilometres inland, the site of a new 10.4 MW wind farm. So large are the turbines it was expected to take 24 trucks, each 31 metres long, to transport the load.

It may have been the greenest event taking place at the time of America's favourite spring holiday, St. Patrick's Day, on March 17. In the middle of last month, a caravan of flat-bed trucks transported a load of eight 1.3 MW Nordex turbines from the docks in Philadelphia to an old coal strip mine 480 kilometres (300 miles) inland -- the site of the new 10.4 MW wind farm that will provide green energy in Pennsylvania.

So large are the Nordex N60 units it was expected to take 24 trucks, each 31 metres long, to transport the load to Garrett, where the $10 million Green Mountain Wind Farm is being built in Pennsylvania. When fully operational in early May, the turbines will stand 60 metres tall. Their output will be bought by GreenMountain.com, a seller of electricity with 60,000 customers in Pennsylvania. Britain's National Wind Power (NWP) is constructing the plant through its Anglo-American subsidiary, American National Wind Power, along with a smaller US wind developer Distributed Generation Systems (DisGen) of Colorado.

The turbines arrived from Europe on a cold and blustery Saturday aboard the Thorsimba after 18 days crossing the Atlantic. At the dock, unloading took several hours. Some parts of the turbines weigh more than 35 tons. On land, transporting the turbines is complicated too. Because of the height and length of the trucks, they had to avoid the state's main freeway and make their way to Somerset County on smaller roads. The trucks also had to avoid rush hour and pull off the roads at night. A dry run of the two-day journey started on March 14 to check the logistics. Moving all of the turbines was predicted to take ten days.

GreenMountain.com, Nordex and NWP played up the "turbine tour" with web site pictures and a "consumer event" along the route. "Our mission is to change the way power is made and these wind turbines are the perfect example of what customer choice can accomplish," says Dennis Kelly, of GreenMoutnain.com. May 20 is now to be the plant's official inauguration day but it will be on-line in early May. It was to have opened on Earth Day, on April 20.

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