CORPUS CHRISTI – A recently released study on the effects of wind turbines on local broadcasting reported few anticipated problems, according to a summary report by Evans Engineering Solutions.
The study, commissioned by Chapman Ranch wind farm developer Apex Clean Energy, contends that any of the potential problems – which researchers say would only affect residences within the immediate project area – would be limited and could be mitigated.
The report, released late last week, was completed about two months after the City Council voted without dissent to annex 16 square miles of Chapman Ranch, where the proposed wind farm is expected to be located. City officials had named a number of concerns about the project, including the possibility that the turbines could interfere with local broadcasting, because of the proximity of several broadcast towers to the boundaries of the wind farm.
According to the study, researchers found that there are no turbines are planned in the paths of broadcast signals, and that while most mobile transmissions from news vans would likely be unaffected, in cases in which they are, the issue can be resolved by moving antennas.
The report states that HDTVs don’t usually have problems handling moderate interference, but receiving issues, “in the worst case, would be confined to the confines of the immediate turbine area,” and slightly to the south and the east, accounting for about 45 households. Those that get television signals through cable or a satellite dish would not require mitigation, according to the study.
The locations of the towers, the proposed wind farm and the city make the project unique, said Jeff Ferguson, vice president of project development for Apex. Based on the results of the study, the company will contact “each of the households that lies within the identified mitigation area to commit, in writing, to mitigate any broadcast interference that may occur due to our project, in the manner recommended by this study,” he added.
Don Dunlap, president and general manager of KEDT, gave a presentation to the council several months ago about the concerns local broadcasters have about the wind farm and its possible effects on broadcast transmissions. This week, he said he had not yet had an opportunity to review the report issued by Apex, but planned to go over it with a consultant in January.
The intention of the recent annexation was to regulate the wind farm, and also benefit from its tax base, city officials have said.
Opponents of the plans decried the decision, citing property rights, suburban sprawl amid failing infrastructure within the existing city limits and an offer made by Apex to reduce the size of the wind farm.
Although the council took into account concerns by local broadcasters that the wind farm could interfere with their signals, it was only one of several variables that led to the annexation, said Mayor Nelda Martinez. She expects that the city staff will review the study, and that the council will likely discuss it.
But had the study about potential broadcast interference been available in October, it wouldn’t have changed her vote to annex, she added. Concerns about protecting the city’s growth corridor, as well as the Navy’s flight training programs, were also drivers of that decision, the military being most heavily weighted, Martinez said.
A second phase of annexation remains on the table, she added.
The amount of land that could be included in a second phase of annexation hasn’t been determined, wrote Assistant City Manager Wes Pierson in an email to the Caller-Times on Thursday.
“The size and location of the proposed Chapman Ranch Wind Farm development will have to be considered and will likely influence future decisions by the city,” he wrote.
The wind farm’s size and location, meanwhile, are not yet finalized, although Apex is moving forward with the project, said Dahvi Wilson, an Apex spokeswoman.
“We are still in the stage of development where we are constantly re-evaluating the project plans. Right now, we are tentatively planning to update the project layout so that no turbines fall within the new city limits,” Wilson said. “However, we will continue to evaluate the project layout as the project develops, and we will strive to be as adaptable as possible until a final layout is identified.”
It was not clear this week when discussion about a second phase of annexation may return to council.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding