As the former director of the Atlantic Test Ranges at Patuxent River, I have been reading with interest the recent articles related to the effects of wind turbines on instrumentation radar systems located at this facility. I am a recognized national expert on test range instrumentation and operations with over 40 years of experience in this field. I would like to let the public know that wind turbine development on the Eastern Shore is a real encroachment threat to certain test measurements performed by the Navy at Patuxent River.
In the March 20 edition of The Star Democrat, an article written by an electronic warfare engineer with no knowledge or experience about the instrumentation used to measure aircraft stealth, commented on the impacts of wind turbines to these systems. In the article, the engineer misquoted the positions and statements by Navy personnel and political representatives. Additionally, his understandings of the technical issues were grossly wrong and misleading. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratories performed an independent analysis to verify the interference and look for potential solutions. MIT briefed the Navy and the political leaders on their findings and this is driving the necessity of House Bill 1168 to delay construction of turbines within 46 miles of the naval base. Currently there are no proven technical solutions that can mitigate the effects posed by wind turbines on these systems. To be perfectly clear, neither the Navy nor the political leaders are against wind turbines.
In fact, the Navy fully supports the use of alternative energy sources and has worked closely with local, state, and federal agencies to establish procedures for wind turbine encroachment within a 46 mile radius of the Naval Air Station. The Navy even generated a map to show the allowable height of turbines as a function of distance from the radars to ease the approval process. This map allows for owners to know how tall a turbine can be before it impacts the Navy systems. However, the commercial wind turbines proposed for Somerset County are too tall to be placed as currently planned and will significantly impact the Navy’s systems.
Greg Gillingham writes from Hollywood, Md.
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