A prominent opponent of a Swanton wind energy project is claiming the proposed wind turbines represent a hazard for flying airplanes.
American Airlines commercial pilot and former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie issued a statement Friday stating that the Federal Aviation Administration had issued a notice to that effect.
Dubie said the FAA’s notice “speaks for itself,” and said that as an airline pilot, the letter “absolutely” raises concerns in his mind. He said he had spoken to a regional director of the FAA who told him the turbines could interfere with radar communications.
“Obstacles near airports are not some abstract thing,” Dubie said. “These are things that need to be vetted.”
The 499-foot tall wind turbines “exceed obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities,” the FAA’s Notice of Presumed Hazard, dated October 9, 2015, reads.
As a result, it states, “the structure is presumed to be a hazard to air navigation.”
The wind turbines could interfere with radar signals used to guide air traffic, according to the letter.
Though the structures are presumed to be a hazard, further study may show that not to be the case, the letter states.
According to a spokesperson for the wind developer, Swanton Wind, LLC, Dubie is misrepresenting the meaning of a routine FAA notice.
Spokesperson Anthony Iarrapino said the notice simply states that the FAA can’t approve the wind turbines without further study.
“The former lieutenant governor lives close to the project, he has been opposed since the early days, and unfortunately he has not always gotten his facts straight before contacting the media,” Iarrapino said.
The FAA notice “is a non-issue at this stage in the game,” he said. “This is not a determination, this is not an end of a process, this is a step in a process, and we’re working with the FAA, and we’re looking forward to a favorable determination.”
Dubie’s press release comes only days after Swanton residents voted overwhelmingly against the wind power installation. Dubie lives in nearby Fairfield.
Their vote serves largely as a non-binding recommendation to the Public Service Board, which is the state agency ultimately tasked with approving or denying the project.
Residents voted 731 to 160 in opposition to the project.
FAA representatives were unavailable for comment.
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