By MELINDA KRICK

Correspondent

PAULDING – A rare opportunity to tour a wind turbine construction site and an operational wind farm was provided Friday to a group that included visiting and local officials.

The Paulding County commissioners organized the tour in conjunction with EDP Renewables, which is now constructing Timber Road IV Wind Farm in the western part of the county.

About 50 people attended the tour, including a state senator and three state representatives; five county commissioners from Huron and Erie counties (where there’s strong opposition to a proposed wind farm) and Henry County; and numerous legislative aides and advisors.

Guests also included representatives from Ohio Consumers Counsel, Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Ohio Conservative Energy Forum.

Most of the county elected officials were among the local dignitaries. Others present were the economic development and EMA directors, a representative of Paulding Putnam Electric and a couple members of the media.

Commissioner Tony Zartman welcomed the group at the OSU Extension Building. Commissioner Roy Klopfenstein, Wayne Trace superintendent Ben Winans and Erin Bowser, director of project management for EDP Renewables, also spoke prior to a catered luncheon. (See related story.)

Afterward, everyone boarded two Antwerp school buses to travel to the construction site on Road 144 west of Paulding, and to an operational wind turbine near Antwerp.

Timber Road IV is adding 31 wind turbines to the 182 already in the county. Microsoft has contracted with EDP to purchase power generated from the facility.

Several construction sites are visible to motorists traveling on Ohio 111 between Paulding and Ohio 49. A few cranes dot the horizon where the wind turbine towers are starting to rise.

The tour started at the end of a gravel access lane, where the components wait in the shadow of a huge crane.

The foundation has been completed and the underground lines have been installed.

EDP workers first showed off the three 67-meter (over 219 feet) turbine blades. The ends of all three feature a serrated “shark teeth” edge that are designed to reduce noise as the blades spin. This is a newer technology not included on previous projects.

Two different wind turbine models are being built. One is a V136 that can produce up to 3.9 megawatts; the 67-meter blades fit these.

The other is a model V150 that can produce up to 4.2 megawatts. Its blades are 73.7 meters (241 feet).

Both models have a hub height of 105 meters (344.5 feet). When completed, the turbines will be the tallest in Paulding County.

The visitors walked to the base of the blades, where workers unzipped the coverings to allow a peek inside. Each blade weighs about 32,000 pounds. The base is wider than a person with arms outstretched.

Next, each person could climb a ladder to look inside the nacelle, which is the structure to be placed atop the tower housing all of the generating components, including the generator, gearbox, drive train, brake assembly, hydraulics and electric controller.

After the tower is completed, the nacelle – about the size of a semi trailer – will be lifted into position and then the hub and blades will be attached.

Adjacent to the nacelle, the first tower section has been installed on a foundation 67.5 feet wide and about 10-12 feet deep containing nearly 700 yards of concrete.

The tower base is accessible by a metal stairway. Inside, the main feature is a metal ladder that eventually will reach the nacelle when construction is finished. Workers can attach a safety harness to the frame. This tower also features a small elevator so workers won’t have to climb.

Finally, the group got a good look at the crane, which weighs 1.4 million pounds and can lift about 42,000 pounds. The EDP crew said another crane will be brought in that weighs 1.8 million pounds.

The school buses then transported everyone to a nearby operational wind turbine, located among a few other turbines on a winding access lane. The buses stopped about 300 feet from the base of one turbine. Bowser explained the group couldn’t go closer due to safety reasons and because there were too many people present.

With a slight breeze, the turbine’s blades were spinning, but very little sound could be heard. A few of those present noted that a camera drone being used was louder than the wind turbine.

Also noted were communications towers that will allow operators to “talk” to each wind turbine to control direction, for example.

The two-hour tour concluded at the OSU Extension Building.

Construction of Timber Road IV Wind Farm was expected to be completed within seven to nine months and placed into service by the end of 2020.