Be on the lookout for traveling windmills

July 16, 2012 – TaxTalk Blog

Truck transporting wind mill partsOver the course of the next few months windmills will have a presence on Indiana’s highways. Or, rather, windmill “parts” will.

Beginning in June, the Oversize/Overweight (OSW) division of the Department of Revenue’s Motor Carrier Services (MCS) began issuing permits for more than 2,000 loads, all destined for a new wind farm near Elwood, Indiana. The town of 8,500 is approximately 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis and was chosen as the location for Indiana’s latest wind farm.

The Wildcat Wind Farm will span more than 15,000 acres and contain 125 wind turbines, each of which will be 328 feet tall with three blades measuring 160 feet each.

The turbine components are manufactured at plants in Texas and Louisiana and then are sent to a distribution center in Illinois. Getting each turbine to the Wildcat site in Indiana will require an average of 11.2 truckloads. And these won’t be the typical semi-trailers we’re used to seeing on our highways. These will be “superloads,” meaning they’ll measure from 8 to 15 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet tall and weigh from 70,000 to 240,000 pounds. And the length? The longest loads will be the turbine blades, and they’ll top out at a staggering 185 feet. Most of the other loads will exceed the 100-foot mark.

To move loads of those sizes, the company installing these windmills must apply for superload permits from OSW, have the routes they plan to travel preapproved by MCS, and have an Indiana State Police escort. The company has been consulting with MCS and the Indiana Department of Transportation for months to find routes that meet the requirements for superloads. They have even built 40 miles of new county roads in the area of the site because the current roads didn’t meet requirements.

While you shouldn’t expect to see Don Quixote of La Mancha tilting at these giant superloads, do be on the lookout for some very long, very wide slow-moving vehicles on Indiana’s highways this summer and fall.

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