The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission voted Thursday in favor of 75 wind turbines to be built in the Montezuma Hills, reversing its decision from nearly a year ago.
The project will now head March 20 to the Solano County Planning Commission, where it had stalled for nearly a year after officials at Travis Air Force Base raised concerns that the turbines may affect radar systems.
The change in vote came after officials at Travis indicated they are no longer objecting to the proposal, as stated in a letter written by Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette earlier this month. A previous letter written by Arquiette – asking the Planning Commission to delay the project until a new radar system was installed at the base in October – had postponed a decision.
The latest Arquiette letter, indicating the base will no longer object to the project, came after the Air Force Flight Standards Agency concluded that the radar and turbines could co-exist.
Also different at Thursday night’s meeting was the makeup of the ALUC. The meeting featured newly appointed commissioner Dale Baumler, and was without John Kakacek who recently passed away. Chairman John Foster recused himself from the vote at the request of the applicant, enXco.
Foster had made comments about the wind turbines at previous planning commission meetings, speaking then as a private citizen.
There are currently more than 700 wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills. Travis officials have said the newest batch potentially would cause a problem since the blades of the turbines may make it seem like smaller planes drop off the radar screens while images of others appear when they aren’t actually there.
The ALUC voted 7-0 to approve the project, but only as an exception. Because the 700 turbines already in the area have proven to cause radar issues, the new project is technically not consistent with the Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan. But because the newest batch of turbines would be housed within the existing patch, no new complications with radar systems are expected, according to enXco and Air Force officials.
By Danny Bernardini
14 March 2008
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