CORPUS CHRISTI – New information tonight on safety concerns surrounding a planned wind farm in the Chapman Ranch area. A recent Navy study says that wind farm could make it dangerous for the navy to train pilots in our area.
The study, which covered a number of current and pending wind farms in South Texas, showed the installations can cause air traffic control radars to miss certain aircraft, and see aircraft that isn’t there.
The main problem is small planes. Unlike larger or Navy plans, they typically don’t have transponders that transmit their locations, making it hard for a radar to see them when near a wind farm.
U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold weighs in.
“Basically, it (the study) confirms what we’ve suspected for a long time. There is potential for interference between the radars and the wind farms, and a potential safety issue for our pilots,” he says.
The study suggests a number of solutions, including radar upgrades, additional radars, transponder requirements for aircraft in the area, and establishing a 30 mile zone around air traffic control radars (in our case, the one at Corpus Christi International Airport) where wind turbines can’t be built.
“We have to protect the jobs here and we have to protect the Navy. That’s the primary problem, you know, we don’t want them to leave,” Corpus Christi City Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn says.
Farenthold is already working on legislation for the 30 mile zone. He says the tech upgrades will be expensive.
“Part of the deal the wind farms have made with the military is that they’ve got to take certain mitigation efforts… Wind farms could potentially pay for all or part of upgrading the radar system or putting in these smaller, area radars,” Farenthold says.
The Federal Aviation Administration is fine with the Chapman Ranch-area wind farm. Enbridge, the energy company behind the wind farm, says it wants to be a good neighbor, but doesn’t want to comment further until it’s gone over the entire Navy study.
Enbridge recently took over the wind farm project from the previous company behind it, Apex Clean Energy.
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