After months of working with the Department of Defense to strike a balance between domestic energy and national security needs, Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (both D-Ore.) praised the Pentagon’s announcement Friday that it will no longer block the development of eight new wind farms: six in Oregon and two in Washington state.
Earlier this year, DoD halted new wind farm construction in Eastern Oregon and Washington after determining that the proposed Shepherds Flat wind farm in Eastern Oregon would impact an aging radar system near Fossil.
While the Shepherds Flat wind farm was ultimately allowed to move forward when DoD announced in April that it would upgrade its radar system, other projects remained on hold until now.
“From our earliest conversations about Shepherds Flat, it was clear that the Pentagon had never been asked to factor domestic energy needs into its national security decisions. It literally wasn’t on their radar,” said Wyden.
“But DoD deserves a lot of credit, not just for clearing the way for the construction of more than 1,100 wind turbines and the hundreds of jobs that these projects will create, but for working to create a process that will now balance these two important national priorities.”
“I’m grateful that the Department of Defense has given us the green light to allow six wind farms to be built in Oregon,” said Merkley “These new wind farms will mean more jobs for Oregonians and that is exactly what we need right now.”
The Oregonian reported that radar settings at the Fossil surveillance station, opened in 1958, were tweaked in September to reduce interference. an official said the station will be a key test site for the military on technological upgrades designed to address interference problems that have threatened to stall wind energy projects nationwide.
The upgrades to be tested there include an auxiliary processor and an “adaptive clutter map” to better edit out false targets, said Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment. If those interim steps don’t work well enough, the military could add supplemental stations, or replace the station entirely.
Robyn said the Pentagon will raise any concerns earlier in the wind farm application process. Defense officials also are talking with the wind industry about sharing the costs of improving, augmenting or replacing radar stations, to reduce interference issues.
Upgrading the technology costs roughly $1 million to $2 million per station, she said, while replacing a station can cost tens of millions of dollars.
The following Oregon and Washington Wind Turbine Projects were cleared by DoD Friday afternoon:
Horseshoe Bend Wind LLC/Caithness, Arlington, Oregon 2010-WTW-8135 to 8148 & 8151 to 8168 & 8171 to 8174-OE
Horseshoe Bend Wind LLC/Caithness, Arlington,Oregon 2010-WTW-9639 to 9641-OE
WLAB, Hardman, Oregon 2010-WTW-7986 to 8970 –OE Oregon
Baseline Wind LLC at First Wind, Arlington, Oregon 2010-WTW-8235 to 8460-OE Oregon
Horizon Wind Energy, Arlington, Oregon 2010-WTW-7234 to 7448-OE Oregon
Iberdrola Montague, Shepherds Flat, Oregon 2010-WTW-2666 to 2890-OE Oregon
Iberdrola at Juniper Canyon 2, Roosevelt, Washington 2010-WTW-7617 to 7762-OE Washington
Horizon Wind at Heritage Wind, Brickleton, Washington 2010-WTW-7453 to 7565-OE Washington
The total number of turbines under these determinations is 1,128.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management Prineville District released on Friday its final environmental impact statement for the West Butte Wind Power Right-of-Way Project.
It’s associated with a proposed wind farm development on private land adjacent to the BLM near Prineville. West Butte Wind Power LLC submitted an application last year to build an access roadway and transmission line across nearly four miles of BLM-managed public lands.
The proposed project consists of up to 52 wind turbines, providing up to 104 megawatts of generating capacity.
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