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Short-term ban sought on turbines

After watching and learning from the year-long process of approving new wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills, one county supervisor will ask Tuesday for a temporary ban on such projects.

Supervisor Barbara Kondylis will present the issue at Tuesday’s Solano County Board of Supervisors meeting. The discussion comes after the Solano County Planning Commission recently approved 75 new wind turbines in an area east of Travis Air Force Base.

The latest wind turbine project was stalled after the Travis Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette wrote a letter to the county asking for delay until a new radar system could be up and running at the base in November. His objection was lifted nearly a year later when his superiors announced the new turbines would not cause additional radar issues.

Even though the 700 or so turbines already in the hills cause some radar problems – such as smaller planes disappearing off the radar or appearing when they aren’t really there – it was deemed by Air Force specialists that the new turbines wouldn’t cause additional problems. Because the new turbines would be housed within the current bunch, it was decided there wouldn’t be additional effects.

Now, Kondylis wants to see the approval of similar projects stopped until the kinks of the new radar system are worked out.

“I really think it’s time for us to stop and give Travis a chance to get their radar in place,” she said. “Hopefully they will be able to resolve the problem. It’s not a good idea to have airplanes flying around that no one can see.”

Kondylis had previously filed an appeal against the planning commission’s decision, but dropped it after Arquiette backed off his request for a delay.

One remaining question Kondylis has involves the Federal Aviation Administration’s “letter of no hazard” that was filed in November of 2006 regarding the turbines. She said it was only a month or so later that Travis representatives started complaining of radar issues. She said she wonders how the two sides could have different opinions.

“We never heard from the FAA again,” Kondylis said. “The FAA never did anything. It’s a safety issue and a security issue for Travis.”

The Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. in the Supervisors Chamber in Fairfield.

By Danny Bernardini

The Reporter

20 April 2008