A Texas House Committee has much to consider after listening to testimony from both experts and the public on the potential effects of two possible wind farms going up in Clay County on Wednesday.
The main concerns centered on how the wind farms could impact Sheppard Air Force Base flight training operations.
Sheppard officials said the wind farms, one near Petrolia and the other near Bluegrove, would cause more flights to be canceled when there are low clouds and also cause radar interference.
“If these wind farms were erected as proposed, we’d have two big dead spots on that radar – where an air traffic controller would lose sight of them. Black holes. And since they’d be coming at that level, that’s exactly the place where you don’t want it to happen because that’s a high traffic area,” Col. Burke Beaumont with the base said.
“The question becomes – does it impair the entire mission of Sheppard Air Force Base for this community? And will the military then look at moving that base somewhere else where you have 365 days of training – as opposed to a limited training days here in Wichita Falls?” John Greer with Clay County Against Wind Farms said.
Wind farm owners declined the invitation to attend Wednesday’s hearing, however, The Wind Coalition Executive Director, Jeff Clark, testified as their representative.
“If in fact a wind project is incompatible or creates hazards or creates a lack of mission capability for the base – that they wouldn’t proceed with the project,” Clark said.
Clark also agreed with others opposed, saying communication needs to improve between wind farm, Sheppard officials, and locals.
“Because in the absence of communication people get scared. They get worried and they think there’s a threat coming to the community and they start doing things that perhaps aren’t productive,” Clark said. “So better communication makes certain that the landowners that want to have their wind energy resource developed are able to be considered and the much more important role of the military base is considered as well.”
Further discussions on the matter are expected when the Texas Legislature reconvenes in January.
Clay County residents also spoke on how the wind farms could negatively impact their property values and Wichita Falls officials spoke about a possible negative economic impact as well.
The Texas House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee conducted the session where Wichita Falls Representative James Frank serves as co-chair.
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