Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Thursday turned up pressure on the Air Force to remove some of the obstacles facing wind power developers in rural Nevada.
Reid urged Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to share airspace maps of Nevada and surrounding states.
He also called on the military to invite state officials, utility executives and investors to form advisory groups for the Air Force as it sets policy for reviewing proposed wind projects.
Finally, Reid recommended the Air Force designate a single decision-maker for wind energy.
“I am hopeful that the Air Force and other stakeholders can work together to quickly develop a more consistent process that serves all sides’ interests in efficiency and predictability,” Reid told Wynne in a letter made public by his office.
The letter follows a Dec. 4 meeting between Wynne and Nevada’s congressional delegation. At the session, the Air Force leader was pressed to give developers more guidance as to where wind projects might be acceptable in the state.
With the military controlling almost half the airspace in Nevada by some estimates, the Pentagon has wielded influence over the placement of windmill towers and power generating equipment.
In 2002, for instance, plans for 545 wind turbines for generating electricity at the Nevada Test Site were canceled after Air Force officials expressed national security concerns.
It was later disclosed that whirling turbine blades would disrupt radar signals during training exercises. Other sources said the turbines would disrupt sensitive sound-tracking equipment at the secret Area 51 base.
More recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in November said the Pentagon will not object to a wind farm project in eastern Nevada.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, has escalated his push for wind power, solar, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy development in Nevada.
By Steve Tetreault
Stephens Washington Bureau
4 January 2008
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