Is it Real or Politics?

Timlynn Babitsky | Issues: Strategies & Tactics,Radar interference | Sunday, April 6th, 2008

by Timlynn Babitsky
In January 2006, Congress mandated a study of the effects of proposed wind turbines on military operations. Many folks at the time viewed this as a political ploy by powerful senators to stall development of the Cape Wind project on Nantucket Sound. So what’s the deal? Is radar interference real ….or something else?

In “A New Blip on Wind Power’s Radar Screen” Cindy Skrzycki laid out the details.

Initially, the perceived problem was that tall turbines might create false signals picked up by military radar. This triggered both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to pay much closer attention to wind project plans and to require review and inspection of projects in development.

With yet another government stakeholder to satisfy along with exponential growth in the wind energy industry, turbine developers claim that the inspections are holding up projects and putting them in financial peril. There are just not enough inspectors to go around.

In essence turbine height was the issue – how tall structures would affect military air space and training routes and landings at commercial airports. But then in late March 2006, the Department of Homeland Security weighed in with much more stringent requirements.

The American Wind Energy Association noted that wind power peacefully coexists with radar. Sometimes moving or lowering towers solved any military concerns. And then, there are the military installations that have operating turbines – the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo, and the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming for example. So what’s the deal?

Well, developers who receive a “Notice of Presumed Hazard” from the FAA cannot get financing or go forward with construction. Yet the FAA is not anti-wind project they just want developers to pay attention to the radar issue.

Whether or not the radar interference issue is politically motivated, it is an issue that requires your early attention. If the solution is to move or lower your turbines, it is a lot easier to accomplish on paper before you begin construction.

Don’t get caught with your defenses down!

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