CORPUS CHRISTI – Congressman Blake Farenthold is concerned that wind farms could hinder military operations if they are built near military bases. He and two other congressmen have introduced a bill, and if it passes, any new wind farms built within 50 miles of military installations would be ineligible for the wind production tax credit.
However even if the bill passes, it would not impact the Chapman Wind Farm that is soon to be built. David Owen, Chapman Ranch landowner, tells KRIS 6 News the bill would only apply to new projects that have not yet been approved.
“As an existing project that has been approved, the Chapman Ranch landowners do not believe that any proposed legislation will impact our project,” he said in a statement.
“Military aviators need to focus on flying, not worry about radar failing to pick up other planes,” Congressman Farenthold said in a statement. “Without this legislation, communities could see a negative impact when military bases are no longer able to carry out their missions.”
The bill comes in the midst of the national discussion about whether wind farms interfere with the operation of military radar. That debate continues locally.
A recent Navy study, which covered a number of current and pending wind farms in South Texas, showed that wind turbines could cause air traffic control radars to miss certain aircraft, especially smaller planes.
“There is a danger to the pilots, because of these turbines,” said Shane Torno. “Then we don’t have the full ability to complete the missions that they’re assigned to do, which is in essence, protect our country.”
Torno owns property next to the site of the Chapman Wind Farm, and has been watching the project’s progress closely. Like Farenthold, he fears its proximity to the Naval Air Stations poses dangers.
“If the bill goes through, it’s going to be be beneficial for the entire country,” Torno said. “At the same time, I am disappointed because of the timing of this bill, it won’t affect the Chapman Ranch Wind Farm. So both NAS Kingsville and NAS Corpus Christi are still going to have the encroachment of those turbines.”
However, Owen says the wind farm was reviewed and cleared by both the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration. In a statement, he says:
“Mitigation was required and is being provided. With the mitigation, the Navy found that our wind farm will have no adverse impact on the missions of either NAS-CC NAS-Kingsville. The FAA found that our wind farm will have no adverse impact on air traffic…we are thrilled that our wind farm will have no impact on the naval air stations.”
This week, the Navy also stated that it is committed to working with developers to ensure renewable energy projects are compatible with military operations.
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