While at least two Texas legislators are drafting proposals that would limit the construction of wind turbines near military bases, a similar effort is underway in North Carolina.
The Times Record News reported on Thursday that Texas Rep. James Frank is working with a New Braunfels senator to propose legislation limiting state tax abatements awarded to wind energy projects in a 25-mile radius of military installations.
North Carolina’s legislative body already has begun a push to limit wind energy development in prescribed areas of the state where lawmakers believe the structures could interfere with military flight training missions, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The proposal recently passed a vote in the state’s Senate and is being considered in its House. The measure reportedly would prohibit wind energy development in large swaths of central and eastern North Carolina.
In North Texas, two possible wind farm developments in Clay County could threaten flight training missions and radar operations at nearby Sheppard Air Force Base, according to base officials and wind energy opponents. The worst case scenario, they say, is that Sheppard’s missions are moved elsewhere and Wichita Falls loses an estimated $750 million in annual economic impact.
Representatives of Horn Wind LLC, the developer of the projects, and Alterra Power Corp., the Canada-based owner, have repeatedly said they want to minimize any potential impact the developments have on Sheppard missions.
They also have contracted with a aeronautics consulting firm to determine whether projects in Bluegrove and Byers would unduly interfere with base operations. The study had not been completed as of Thursday.
Though Rep. Frank said he a proposal to protect military installations from wind farms has been drafted, no measure can be considered until the Texas Legislature next meets in January.
As it stands now, Texas wind energy developers are required only to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before starting construction – the FAA may or may not consider the consequences projects have on military operations.
The Department of Defense’s siting clearinghouse could arbitrate negotiations in Clay County’s wind developments, though the agency’s involvement is not required.
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