Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, is exploring legislation that would prevent local wind projects from receiving state subsidies if they interfere with Fort Drum operations.
In a statement released Friday, Ms. Jenne said that because Fort Drum is important economically and militarily, the state should find other ways to meet its Clean Energy Standard without jeopardizing Fort Drum’s capabilities.
“With approximately 10 new wind farms proposed or under construction around Fort Drum, their impact on training operations that translates to troop readiness and future mission readiness cannot be ignored,” she said. “This important national defense asset cannot be taken for granted. I have grave concerns that the base, with its $1.2 billion annual impact on our state’s economy, could be negatively impacted if neighboring wind turbine projects hamper its ability to operate efficiently and effectively.”
Ms. Jenne said she has been in discussions with officials at Fort Drum as well as those with the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.
“The FDRLO welcomes the Assemblywoman’s voice on this crucial issue,” FDRLO Executive Director Brian Ashley said in a statement. “Our mission is to protect and enhance Fort Drum’s military value and anything that prevents our soldiers from training to the highest level of readiness is an unacceptable threat.”
Military officials have told the Times the turbines can affect military and weather radar, creating a potential “black hole” of visibility and producing false weather data.
However, they insisted that rather than directly opposing all wind projects, they wanted to work with developers to reduce potential conflicts.
The post’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield houses Army and Air Force helicopters and drones and is used for training by units across the military, including those using live bombs on its Range 48.
Airfield staff said the turbines show up similar to moving aircraft, creating a potential overload of information that would prompt the system to drop legitimate aircraft from its view.
In addition, the post is the home for an Air Force weather squadron that maintains a weather radar in Montague. Air Force officials said the turbines contaminate their data.
Upon conclusion of these discussions, Ms. Jenne said she expects to formally introduce legislation that would prevent local projects near the post from getting the state subsidies, adding that the measure could better protect Fort Drum from another round of base closings in 2019.
Ms. Jenne has sponsored bills aimed at increasing state investments in hydroelectric and biomass facilities.
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