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Turbine talks on the radar  

Company offers Travis $1 million in compensation

The company trying to build additional wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills has offered Travis Air Force Base up to $1 million to help solve any potential radar issues caused by the structures.

The Solano County Planning Commission again will hear the wind turbine issue at tonight’s meeting, but based on a year of discussions and postponed meetings on the issue, a delay may be as likely as a decision.

A company called enXco applied early last year to build a project titled Shiloh II to comprise 88 wind turbines located southeast of Travis.

The problem is that Travis officials fear that the new turbines would interfere with a new radar system that will be operational by October.

There are currently more than 700 wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills, but the newest batch potentially would cause a problem as the blades of the turbines may lead to smaller planes appearing to drop off the radar screens while images of others may appear when they aren’t actually there, according to Travis officials.

Decisions have been postponed and tabled at several Solano County Planning Commission meetings over the past year, but now enXco is offering $1 million to mitigate any potential problems, according to staff reports.

The last time officials from Travis weighed in on the issue, Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette, commandant at the base, penned a letter asking that the project be delayed until the new radar system is installed. Although the base has not publicly responded to the latest offer, Capt. Lindsay Logsdon said there would be a representative from Travis at the meeting to answer any questions the planning commission has.

Also involved is the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission, which voted against the project in April due to safety concerns regarding interference with Travis’ radar.

The planning commission must vote with a super-majority to override that decision.

Although enXco claims radar experts they hired found that the windmills would “not appreciably degrade the performance” of the radar, the company has offered the money to assist in technical support for radar issues, optimizing of the current and future radar system or assistance in moving the location of the future radar system.

John Foster, ALUC chairman, said the latest offer does not address the real issue, which he said is a risk to the safety of Travis. He said instead of letting Travis and the company negotiate, someone from the county should have intervened.

“A year has gone by and there has been no political leadership,” Foster said.

“The ALUC found it to be inconsistent. Everything has been leaning on Travis to overlook this problem. We should be lining up behind Travis. It’s no question it’s a safety hazard.”

To be fair, Foster said, these dangers were not foreseen when the original batch of windmills was installed. But he said it now looks more like the company is just paying Travis to ignore any potential dangers.

“This offer of a million dollars took me aback,” he said. “(enXco) is saying ‘Here, take the money. It’s our problem, but you take the money and fix it.'”

The Solano County Planning Commission meets tonight at 7 p.m. in the Solano County Supervisors Chambers in Fairfield.

By Danny Bernardini
Staff Writer

The Reporter

21 February 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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