A proposed 108-turbine wind farm north of Casper is being studied by the Federal Aviation Administration because of possible impacts to aviation by at least one of the project’s towers.
The Casper/Natrona County Airport Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to oppose the tower, which is part of the proposed North Forgey Wind Energy project, which would be located near Homa Hills and Antelope Hills – to the north and slightly east of the airport.
In a letter to the FAA, board president Kermit Wille wrote, “The board is not opposed at all to the development of wind turbines; however, with all of the space in Wyoming this proposed wind farm development will create an unnecessary risk in the vicinity of Casper/Casper.Natrona County International Airport.”
One of the towers would reach to 5,472 feet above sea level. According to preliminary FAA information the tower “exceeds obstruction standards.” The Federal study seeks to “determine its effect (the one tower) on safe and efficient use of navigable airspace and on the operation of air navigation facilities. The FAA is seeking comments from pilots and airport operators.
The board’s letter notes that the 108 wind turbines would be between 5.45 nautical miles and 13.6 nautical miles north of the airport’s navigation reference point. Aircraft using Runway 21, the main 11,000 foot runway, are often required to use an extended downwind leg before turning into a final approach for Runway 21. This facilitates spacing needs for aircraft operating under visual flight rules (VFR). If a pilot is operating under instrument flight rules (IFR) the board’s letter notes that if the “reported altimeter setting is different than the actual air pressure 5 or 10 miles from the airport” an avoidable accident could occur because the wind turbine would be only 56 feet below the navigation intersection.
Editor’s Note: Tim Monroe, who wrote and reported this story, is a member of the Casper/Natrona County Airport Board of Trustees. Monroe voted against the proposed site of one wind turbine tower.
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