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An 88-ton load

Photo by Rachelle Klemme A nacelle on its way from Duluth to a North Dakota wind farm takes up both lanes of Jefferson Street in downtown Wadena on Aug. 23, as onlookers watch outside Boondocks Café. A number of these heavy loads throughout the summer have piqued the curiosity of area residents. A nacelle is a piece at the top of a wind turbine tower that holds the electrical generating equipment to create renewable energy, said Minnesota Power spokesperson Steve Kinney.

Gigantic, cylindrical oversized loads rolling through both lanes of Jefferson Street and turning onto Colfax Ave. have piqued the curiosity of Wadena residents sporadically throughout the summer.

Each of these is a piece of a wind turbine being transported to the Minnesota Power's Bison wind farm by New Salem, N.D. According to Steve Kinney, spokesman for Minnesota Power, they are nacelles - a part of the wind turbine resting at the top of the tower, and containing the electrical generating equipment to create renewable energy.

Andrea Sisneros of Compton, Calif.-based Contractors Cargo Company said each nacelle weighs about 176,400 pounds (88.2 tons), not including the specialized hauling truck. The nacelles are 24 feet, 6 inches long, and 13 feet, 10 inches in diameter.

"We move oversized, overwidth, overheight, big and ugly loads only," Sisneros said.

Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol's Detroit Lakes office said the wind turbine equipment originates from the Port of Duluth and then is escorted by the Duluth district of the State Patrol. They heard for North Dakota, and upon re-entry into Minnesota at Interstate 94, the empty trucks are escorted by the Detroit Lakes district back to the port.

Sisneros said a Minnesota or North Dakota route is obtained based on road conditions for loads of their size.

Kinney said the nacelles are manufactured in Brande, Denmark, by Germany-based Siemens, before arriving to Duluth from the Atlantic.

Kinney said the different parts of the turbines, which are manufactured separately in different locations, including Iowa and North Dakota, are all trucked in to the Bison Wind Farm and assembled. He said the company is proud of the renewable energy wind farm, which is to have 70 turbines and supply electricity to Minnesota Power customers in the northwest area of Minnesota.

Kinney said most of the equipment has been delivered by now, but a few more nacelles might be trucked through Wadena.

Grabow said if motorists encounter one of the huge loads, the best thing to do is slow down and pull over when it is safe to do so and obey the State Patrol as they have the authority to direct traffic at intersections.