Common workdays provide interesting stories about wind farm construction

387

Crane Service, Inc has a diverse history since we opened back in 1960 when Emmet Storks opened our first branch in Albuquerque. Our growth was directly related to the growth of Albuquerque. We have been a silent partner in the building and construction of iconic buildings to the less known industries. We pride ourselves in the knowledge we have of the business world at large. We are versed in the language of all industries, especially the wind sector.

All of our customers are smart, creative, and passionate about what they do. At Crane Service, Inc. we support them by making their job easier and making the difficult projects a success. But we don’t have to insert ourselves into their story and that is okay. We are the silent partners in the business, we don’t mind dodging the limelight, and staying in the shadows – because the end result is success of the project manager/director and company. We enjoy making projects appear effortless for the head of projects and companies. But from our standpoint there is a sense of silent pride; a pride we don’t boast upon. It is an extremely good feeling driving by a project and knowing that you were a part of that somehow; whether it is preplanning, working on site, operating the crane, or our service crew. All of the small efforts add up to a success. One success in particular that is interesting is the construction of Trent Mesa Wind Park near Sweetwater, Texas.

Then operator now branch manager, Bob Strohacker, tells the story of how Trent Mesa was constructed and why it was important to the industry and himself. The story starts back in 2001 when operator Bob Strohacker traveled from Albuquerque to Trent to build the wind turbine site for then Enron.

“I don’t think we really realized what we were getting into. We have done windmills in the past, but they weren’t this large. [Referring to the Enron 1.5mW]. We didn’t really realize what it would bring. What it brought was that we were actually the first ones to actually put up the 1.5’s. Now reality has kind of set in and it is like, wow you know what, I was kind of involved in the beginning of windmills – major 1.5’s — I was the one who was able to set the first base section. It is a good feeling, especially standing here today realizing back in 2001 of what it really brings today. Wow it is a good part of history and has been really a good part of my life,” Bob said.

The project came with unique challenges for not only our crews, but also everybody involved in the project. There was a lot of learning for every craft. On our end we had to learn what our equipment and we were truly capable of in the wind. It is worth noting at the time the Enron 1.5mW turbine was the largest in the United States and Trent Mesa was the proving ground – this is where it all started. Another challenge involves the sheer size of the park. The park consists of more than 100 turbines. In order to qualify for the tax breaks the whole park had to be built and producing energy. There was no second place on this project. Even if we fell short and missed it by three turbines, there would be no tax breaks for the entire park. In this time frame we had to stop construction due to the migration of birds that were coming up from Mexico. This did actually become an issue as we were nearing the end of our time frame we had to stop and wait for the migration to pass. This gave us a small window to construct the last three turbines in time. We accomplished what we said we would do and have since been maintaining the turbines in the now GE park.

In this industry the stories you experience never really get told to the public at large. The silent pride takes over and you don’t share your everyday stories. The interesting part is the fact the everyday stories to you are actually amazing stories to your family, friends, and the public at large. Everyday we are taken to another challenge and experience that will help shape and create the world around us. That is not the mindset at the time. It is a job. We are there to accomplish a task. Only later in this case, 10 years later, can you truly reflect on what seemed like a “usual” day back in 2001.