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Fort Drum relays some concerns about wind turbine development, says more research necessary  

Credit:  By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown Daily Times | May 25, 2016 | www.watertowndailytimes.com ~~

Military officials at Fort Drum have expressed some concerns about the effects of wind turbines on its operations, the post’s public affairs office said Friday.

Though its radar technology can mitigate some of the turbines’ effects, the post said it is not a complete solution. The post currently has routine aviation training take place in the areas around Clayton and Henderson, where turbines are being considered. Existing windmills at the Maple Ridge farm in Lewis County have caused some adjustments to its radar, the post said.

In the case of the potential Horse Creek project around Clayton, post officials said they’ve asked for more information to evaluate potential training impacts.

The Times submitted questions to the post last week, following a meeting among post officials, including Garrison Commander Col. Bryan J. Laske. The following responses to the Times’ questions were penned by Julie A. Halpin, the post’s director of public affairs.

Watertown Daily Times: What is Fort Drum’s stance on the placement of wind turbines near the post?

Fort Drum: We remain very interested in the development and location of large scale wind turbines and wind turbine farms in the vicinity of Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield instrument patterns, near Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield in general, the Fort Drum Radar Approach Control airspace area and the Military Operations Areas (MOAs) surrounding the Restricted Areas which serve a high density of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

We look forward to the results of the upcoming Development Authority of the North Country led Joint Land Use Study as a key tool in identifying ways for the coexistence of our training and future wind turbine development in the north country.

WDT: What challenges do windmills present for aviation training?

FD: Wind turbines have the ability to negatively affect instrument approaches by encroaching on the traffic patterns aircraft are vectored via use of air traffic radar for extended final approach courses. There are also impacts to our radar for Air Traffic Control services, minimum vectoring altitudes (MVAs) may have to be raised over wind turbine locations. In some locations a higher MVA makes it more difficult to conduct an approach procedure.

WDT: Are the post’s radar systems able to account for wind turbines?

FD: No, our currently utilized technology gives some relief but is not a complete solution.

WDT: Have there been any changes to the post’s technology to better recognize/adjust to wind turbines?

FD: We have fielded the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS build 12) but unfortunately it did not provide the complete resolution to wind turbine radar interference. It is our understanding that the FAA is currently evaluating other technological solutions, you may want to contact them for further information.

WDT: Are certain turbine heights/blade width preferred in terms of mitigating interference with training?

FD: We are not the best agency to answer this question. The DoD Siting Clearinghouse coordinates the efforts of all Department of Defense (DoD) Components in their official assessments of energy generation and transmission projects for impacts on the DoD mission.

WDT: How has Fort Drum adjusted to existing windmills in Lewis County?

FD: The location of the Maple Ridge wind farm has a greater impact on the Military Operations Areas than on Fort Drum flight training. The Maple Ridge turbines have an impact on radar as it increases the clutter on the scope. We are continuously adjusting and/or modifying our Air Traffic Control service and continue to evaluate technological solutions to the impact wind turbines have on ATC radar.

WDT: What communication has the post had with municipalities and businesses in reference to the Copenhagen Wind Farm?

FD: Discussions center on concerns of proposed location impact to flight operations and how they impact Air Traffic Control functions such as the vectors to the final approach courses and the cumulative effect of the radar with limitations to target density. Additionally, Fort Drum works with the DoD Siting Clearinghouse and the FAA to relay concerns regarding wind turbine development that could affect our airspace.

WDT: How much of the property rights purchased through Fort Drum’s (Army Compatible Use Buffer) program were out of concern of wind turbines?

FD: Our ACUB program is an important tool available to us to protect our land and air training capability. With that being said, we cannot say that any property was specifically pursued out of concern for wind turbine construction only. We use this tool to inhibit encroachment in a broader sense. The DANC-led Joint Land Use Study will enhance communication between Fort Drum and the local and county planning boards and provide easy access resources for developers and planning boards to use when considering major development projects that lead to compatible scenarios for development and Fort Drum land and air training capability.

WDT: What, if any, training occurs within the vicinity of Clayton and Cape Vincent or Hounsfield and Henderson?

FD: Routine aviation training occurs in this airspace.

WDT: What communication has the post had with Iberdrola Renewables and local municipalities about the Horse Creek project?

FD: Discussions center on concerns of proposed location impact to flight operations and how they impact Air Traffic Control functions such as the vectors to the final approach courses and the cumulative effect of the radar with limitations to target density.

WDT: Will the planned placement of turbines for the Horse Creek project in the Clayton/1000 Islands area affect any current training for the 10th Mountain Division? Will the planned Galloo Island project affect any current training for the 10th Mountain Division?

FD: We remain very interested in the development and location of large scale wind turbines and wind turbine farms in the vicinity of Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield instrument patterns, near Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield in general, the Fort Drum Radar Approach Control airspace area and the Military Operations Areas surrounding the Restricted Areas which serve a high density of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

We look forward to the results of the upcoming DANC-led Joint Land Use Study as a key tool in communicating ways forward for the coexistence of our training and future wind turbine development in the north country.

WDT: What communication has the post had with Apex Clean Energy and local municipalities regarding the wind turbine project considered for Galloo Island near Hounsfield/Henderson?

FD: Fort Drum is not in discussions with Apex Clean Energy. However, Fort Drum works with the DoD Siting Clearinghouse and the FAA to relay concerns regarding wind turbine development that could affect our airspace.

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown Daily Times | May 25, 2016 | www.watertowndailytimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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