Wind turbines and the billboards within the Atlantic City limits are secure and won't collapse under the winds of Hurricane Irene, officials say.

The wind farm - comprised of five turbines spinning at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority's wastewater treatment plant in Atlantic City - features 380-foot turbines with 100-foot-long spinning blades, which are visible from Route 30, Route 40 and the Atlantic City Expressway. The windmills are anchored by concrete pads 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep.

"Wind turbine blades... are designed to withstand the forecasted winds of Hurricane Irene, so we will not be removing and storing any blades," said David Smith, vice president - commercial, Infigen Energy US in Dallas.

Infigen Energy is one of the owners of the wind farm along with Community Energy Inc. and Central Hudson Bank.

The wind turbines are placed in a safe condition that will minimize any potential damage, Smith said. Personnel has been relocated out of the area for their personal safety and will return to the site when conditions allow to resume normal operation, Smith said.

The Clear Channel Outdoors company decided to eliminate the risk of hurricane-force winds pushing a piece of a billboard face into piece of property or a person by removing the faces off all high-profile billboards by Friday. Newer billboard technology, called panel free, uses vinyl inserts attached by cables to the steel structures to create the image, said Tony Alwin, the company spokesman.

"They (Clear Channel Outdoors crews) will continue to work on the rest as long as they can work on them," said Alwin about billboard faces that were not high profile.

An emergency response plan was instituted on Thursday by Clear Channel Outdoors corporate operations for the removal of all billboard faces that were capable of being removed from the company's markets north of Salisbury, Md. There are more than 500 Clear Channel billboards in this state and New York, said Alwin, who could not break down the nunber of billboards in either just this state or in southern New Jersey.

It takes three vinyl inserts to create a billboard face in a panel-free metal structure. Each vinyl eco-panel weighs 20 pounds, Alwin said. Two people can take down a panel-free billboard, but Clear Channel crews usually have more people on them than just two workers.

"Crews are standing by to help anyway they can" said Alwin, who is based out the company's corporate office in Phoenix.

The billboards in and around Atlantic City could be one of three types. Panel free are usually bigger and used on highways and are also called bulletins. A highway bulletin or billboard would be considered high profile. There is an older technology where one-piece of a vinyl billboard face is stretched across a metal panel. A third, smaller billboard is an old-fashioned type where the newer face is like wallpaper, and it is plastered or glued over the older face.

Clear Channel Outdoors owns no wallpaper and plaster structures, Alwin said.

Contact Vincent Jackson:

609-272-7202

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