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NAS-Kingsville eyeing new turbines as possible problem

CORPUS CHRISTI – In Kingsville, they love the sound of jets.

But it’s the sound of wind turbines that’s causing problems.

At NAS-Kingsville, a proposed wind farm could be built in Petronila, not far from the base, causing problems with radar and aircraft equipment.

Captain Mark McLaughlin, NAS-Kingsville’s commanding officer, says there two basic problems…one, aircraft can disappear from the radar…and two, the movement of the wind turbine blades can create a radar image that looks like a large passenger jet.

“It’s a safety of flight of issue because it’s not that the airplane doesn’t exist, it’s still out there, we just can’t see it with the radar,” McLaughlin said. “That’s because of the interference coming from turbines, wind turbines.”

An example of the problem: an image from the National Weather Service. Between Gregory and Sinton, it looks like there are little thunderstorms popping up. Those aren’t thunderstorms, those are wind turbines. The folks in Kingsville are having the same problem, but with their radar, it looks like aircraft.

“Our radar can lose the primary hit on the airplane and we don’t know where those airplanes are flying around,” McLaughlin said.

Local city leaders agree with the base’s intentions of keeping alternative energy, but putting the turbines somewhere that doesn’t affect the wide open airspace of Kingsville, a valuable commodity for the Navy.

“We’re going to be very very proactive in trying to move those outside the area of concern,” said Dick Messbarger, Exec. Dir,. Kingsville Economic Development Council.

The city commission even looked this week at hiring a lobbyist and a law firm to help make sure the base gets what it needs to keep the jets in the air.