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Navy, federal officials reach agreement Tuesday with wind turbine developers for site near Petronila

PETRONILA – Nearly two years of planning and negotiations came to fruition Tuesday for a project to build as many as 100 wind turbines north of Naval Air Station Kingsville.

Officials from the Navy, Department of Defense and E. On Climate & Renewables signed an agreement to foster renewable energy in South Texas and to offer a better understanding of its effect on military radar.

“This signing ceremony represents a lot of hard work by a lot of different people,” said Jon Gagne, public affairs officer with the naval station.

The turbines are slated for a site near Petronila, about halfway between Naval Air Stations Corpus Christi and Kingsville.

E. On Climate & Renewables has agreed to give the Department of Defense $750,000 toward research on wind turbine effects on base radar.

The site has been named the Patriot Wind Farm in honor of area military members, company officials said.

In April, a similar agreement was reached with developers for a wind farm with nearly 80 turbines near Riviera. It came a year after base officials initially touted the turbines’ potential for radar interference.

Surrounding school district officials also voiced concerns in September about added noise and potential to lower property values, though a 2009 federal study found no direct impact.

Company officials said the project could bring as much as $150 million in investments and jobs to the area, with as many as 200 construction and 10 full-time positions expected.

“We’re very happy that we were able to reach an agreement that preserves the mission and the readiness of the bases, and also allows for development to move forward,” company spokesman Matt Tulis said.

They are some of the first agreements of their kind since developers began eyeing the Coastal Bend, long known for its gusts.

NAS Kingsville is one of the country’s busiest pilot training facilities, preparing about 50 percent of Navy and Marine tactical jet pilots, federal officials said.

Tuesday’s agreement outlines plans to study more the effects the turbines will have on base radar, and for pilots making dozens of approaches to the base each day.

Construction is expected to break ground next year, company officials said.