CCDLP Wind Project
- Civil Engineering
Westwood’s long relationship with Mortenson Construction brought them together near California’s Mojave Desert on an incredibly difficult site with existing wind infrastructure dating back to the 1980’s. The project included 34 new turbines, 26 of which were installed atop narrow strips of land on Cameron Ridge. The project required moving over 500,000 yards of material to construct access roads and turbine pads that could accommodate the 3-MW turbine structures. That’s more than 10 times the volume of dirt moved per turbine on a typical project.
Unique Permitting Challenges
Energy work in California is significantly different than the rest of the country. “The permitting rules in California are very stringent,” explained Chris Carda, Westwood’s project manager, “We were hired because the client knew we could handle the challenges that California and the site presented.” For instance, Westwood lobbied the Regional Water Quality Control Board to gain environmental credits for the cleanup of existing debris from non-working turbines in lieu of offsite mitigation. The move paid off and the client saved time and money while the existing stream habitat on the site was improved.
Cutting Edge Software
Road construction to turbines on the ridge required flexibility when contractors made changes daily, as necessitated by the challenging terrain. Civil3D software was new to the industry at the time. “We decided to ‘rip the Band-Aid off’ and use it for this project,” explained Carda, “Changes requested by the client took hours instead of days for us to evaluate and complete.” Communication and responsiveness during this phase was key as Westwood mastered the software and dealt with nuances pertaining to its use. While there was a learning curve, it was a calculated risk that paid off.
Overcoming Existing Obstacles
In addition to the permitting challenges and extreme terrain, the project site was previously developed and contained operational turbines. Westwood helped evaluate the existing infrastructure with respect to the proposed development to determine what to remove, what to re-power, and what to leave undisturbed.