Reed & Reed Inc. - Bingham Wind Energy Project

Reed and ReedWith the help of a dedicated team, Reed & Reed successfully overcame climate challenges as it built the Bingham Wind Energy project.
By Bianca Herron

In 1928, Reed & Reed Inc. was founded as a bridge-building firm. Under the leadership of four generations of family, the company has since earned a reputation as one of northern New England’s best Heavy Civil and Wind Power contractors.

Employee-owned Reed & Reed has expanded over the years from bridge construction into marine and heavy civil work, and entered the wind energy market in 2006. “At the time, we constructed Maine’s first wind farm, which was the Mars Hill Wind project,” Project Manager Dustin Littlefield says. “We have been a leader in the wind power industry in New England ever since.”

The Woolwich, Maine-based firm has since erected more than 400 turbines, including the newly constructed Bingham Wind Energy Project in Bingham, Maine. “We completed it this fall in September, and it’s currently Maine’s largest wind project,” says Littlefield.

Reed & Reed started construction in March 2015, building the 56-turbine 185 mw project for SunEdison. The scope includes site work, a collector system and project substation, 56 concrete foundations, 18 miles of 115 kva transmission line and erection of the 56 Vestas V-112 3.3 mw turbines on 94-meter (308 feet) towers.

“We’ve built seven projects, all wind projects, with SunEdison (formerly First Wind),” Littlefield says. “So this project is a testament to our ability to work successfully with our partners. This project was unique in that we were able to be brought in early as the EPC (engineer, procure & construct) contractor with the owner and help them through the permitting phase, and help them in the planning stages in an effort to reduce costs for the project.” Reed Reed box

Turbine deliveries began in fall 2015 and Reed & Reed began erecting turbines at that time. The project was divided into two areas, with 36 turbines located north of Route 16 and 20 turbines to the south. “Route 16 runs between the project,” Littlefield says. “It’s more or less on one continuous ridge line, but it’s intersected by a public roadway.”

The project required the use of more than 25,000 yards of concrete as well as 4.2 million pounds of reinforced steel, Senior Superintendent Greg Letourneau says. “We brought in a portable concrete plant since the local suppliers would not have been able to meet our demand,” he says. “We utilized two Manitowoc 16000 heavy-lift cranes with Boom Raising System and 351 feet of boom for turbine erection.”

Overcoming Challenges

With nearly 200 employees on site at peak, Reed & Reed built the project in the Western Maine Mountains through the winter of 2015-16, which was very challenging. “We took the turbine component deliveries right through the winter, which we had never done before,” Littlefield says. “With putting the towers up, especially during the winter, wind is obviously an issue. So planning those days accordingly was also a challenge to be able to stay on schedule, but we got it done.”

The schedule also meant Reed & Reed had to finish earthwork and install foundations through the majority of the cold season, too. “We had to heat all our concrete both at the plant and on the job,” Letourneau notes. “We used both ground heaters and forced hot air heaters to maintain the required concrete temperatures.”

Turbine deliveries were also suspended for up to 8 weeks in the spring due to posted roads, which restricts the weight limit of vehicles on certain roads, during mud season. With this in mind, Reed & Reed both managed and accelerated delivery of a large percentage of the project’s turbines during the winter months to allow erection to continue throughout mud season.

Letourneau adds that ensuring equipment was in place prior to spring was a key factor in successfully completing the project. "We used lots of matting on our access roads to prevent rutting and erosion,” Letourneau says. “Since most wind projects in Maine are on top of mountain ranges, we also had to deal with steep terrain, which lead to steep slopes, so we had to travel with our cranes and wind component deliveries. That’s why we studded the tracks of our crawler cranes along with lots of sanding to allow for safe travel.”

Another challenge Reed & Reed faced was a new restriction on cutting trees with the Northern Long-Eared Bat being declared endangered in 2015. “We began cutting much later than anticipated,” Letourneau says. “Our team had to condense the schedule in order to meet the substation energization date, which they did. The coordination with the gen-lead and substation was flawless. All the contractors were working for us, so we controlled our own destiny so to speak.”

Culture of Safety

Safety was maintained throughout the duration of the project by utilizing one full-time and one part-time site safety specialist, who taught jobsite safety orientations to all personnel coming on site. “Our site safety folks would conduct daily inspections and corporate quarterly audits,” Letourneau says. “All teams utilized daily JSAs and tailgates. We also have in-house, high-angle rescue trained personnel on site in case issues arise in a tower or on a steep slope. We did have a two-day OSHA Dodge report focused inspection conducted on this project, with no citations given to any of our team or subcontractors.”

Littlefield credits Reed & Reeds’ vendors and subcontractors for the successful completion of the project. “They do a great job for us,” he says. “We use a lot of the same ones for the majority of our jobs, so we have a great working relationship as far as concrete and rebar suppliers, structural steel suppliers go – not only in wind, but in our marine and bridge projects, too. “Having a great working relationship with owners, subcontractors and vendors is the key to making a successful project.”

Coordination of the project was easy and the outcome successful, according to Letourneau, thanks to strong communication between Reed & Reed and its vendors. “We conducted daily ‘plan of day’ meetings to coordinate activities with the folks constructing the condenser building, which went well, too. So we didn’t have any conflict issues at all—we all played nice in our big sand box.”

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