WATERTOWN – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that his office will review the potentially harmful impact wind turbines could have on Fort Drum’s radar capabilities.
“I see the potential danger, and it’s something I take very seriously,” he said.
Gov. Cuomo shared his position on the issue following his announcement that Watertown will receive $10 million in downtown revitalization money.
He noted that while he will continue to support the growth of wind power and other renewables across the state, he plans to take this particular issue into consideration.
“There’s two separate topics: Wind power, renewables, I support,” he said. “Wind power that would affect Fort Drum is a totally different issue. Fort Drum is a very important economic engine, and we wouldn’t want to do anything to dilute that.”
The governor has pushed hard for the use of renewable energy statewide since implementing the Clean Energy Standard. The standard requires that, by 2030, 50 percent of the state’s power must be generated by renewables.
The effort has since increased interest from wind developers, who are actively seeking to build large wind farms throughout Jefferson County and its neighbors.
But in early September, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization said it is opposing the development of eight industrial wind turbine projects near Fort Drum because of the radar interference they would cause. Post officials have said the turbines can affect military and weather radar, creating a potential “black hole” of visibility and producing false weather data.
The FDRLO said the projects in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties represent about 400 new turbines in the post’s airspace. The proposed turbines are planned to stand about 600 feet, about 200 feet taller than existing turbines at Maple Ridge and Wolfe Island.
Gov. Cuomo’s remarks are the latest in a list of growing concerns from several lawmakers over the issue.
On Tuesday, the Jefferson County Board of Legislators passed a resolution supporting any state or federal measure that would prevent wind turbines from being constructed within a certain radius of military installations. Watertown City Council passed a similar resolution Monday.
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, said last month she is exploring legislation at the state level that would prohibit wind projects from being built near the post.
At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Christopher C. Collins introduced a bill last year that would prohibit federal tax relief for wind energy projects located within 40 miles of an active military air base.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, expressed concerns about the turbines in a letter sent to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
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