Air Force officials are standing behind their initial findings that the proposed 130-turbine Cape Wind project would not interfere with the Air Force’s PAVE PAWS radar station in Sagamore.
Supporters of the proposal to build the privately owned wind farm in Nantucket Sound regard this as a victory. Opponents say they will reserve judgment until there is a written report in hand.
The most recent conclusion by the Air Force Space Command echoes the findings from a 2004 study in which it reached the conclusion that 417-foot-tall turbines would not adversely affect the radar operations at PAVE PAWS.
They were asked to review these findings in September after a 62-page report by the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon, prepared at the request of Congress. That report concluded that previous analysis done for the Air Force Space Command was ”overly simplified and technically flawed.”
However, the most recent request for a review of those initial Air Force findings – made at the request of the PAVE PAWS commander – once again resulted in a thumbs up.
”This is a win-win situation for Cape Wind,” said Mark Rodgers, spokesman for the company that has been battling for five years to get state and federal approval for the wind turbine project.
”What this information seems to indicate is that the military and the Air Force are reaching the same conclusion – that Cape Wind will have no adverse effect on Cape Cod or on our national security as Congressman Delahunt and other opponents were so eager to prove,” he said.
U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., has been a vocal critic of the Cape Wind proposal, and last year he asked federal officials to look into the impact of Cape Wind’s proposed turbines on military and civilian radar.
Delahunt and others are still awaiting a larger Defense Department report, due in the spring, on a number of issues surrounding the impact of wind turbines on radar, missile defense systems and other security issues. Among these concerns is a 2005 report from Great Britain that suggests turbine blades can produce holes in detection for military radar systems.
In a statement issued by his staff yesterday, Delahunt said, ”The Pentagon has called the Air Force’s opinion flawed and technically deficient. We will reserve comment until after a more detailed Pentagon assessment is finished this spring.”
The most recent conclusion by Air Force Space Command was made public late last month during a meeting of the Senior Management Board. That group deals with cleanup issues at Massachusetts Military Reservation and comprises officials from Upper Cape towns, the state Department of Environmental Protection, state Department of Public Health, federal Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Lt. Col. Christopher Gentry told board members that the Air Force Space Command reiterated its findings that the turbines would have no adverse effect on radar operations.
Gentry said he has asked the Space Command once again ”to be 100 percent sure,” and he anticipates a response from them within a month.
Charles Vinick, chief executive officer of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, declined comment. ”Until we have a written report in hand that we can review and understand the parameters of the study, it would be inappropriate to offer comment,” he said. ”It is my understanding that there is a larger study under way and it would be premature to offer conjecture on what that might find.”
By Karen Jeffrey
Karen Jeffrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Published: February 13, 2007)
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