A Canadian renewable energy company has canceled a pair of wind projects near Wichita Falls after a Air Force training base said the project would interfere with its pilot training and radar systems.
Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. had planned to build two projects totaling 300 megawatts of wind power east and southeast of Wichita Falls near the communities of Byers and Bluegrove, less than 25 miles from Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls.
The company, which operates about 2,900 megawatts of renewable power generation worldwide, informed the Air Force on June 19 of its decision to remove the Byers and Bluegrove projects from the Federal Aviation Administration’s permitting process, according to the Department of Defense’s Siting Clearinghouse.
Innergex operates two wind farms in Texas with a capacity of 404 megawatts of power generation, according to the company’s website. One megawatt can power 200 Texas homes during the summer.
Had the wind farms been constructed, they would have left Sheppard AFB’s radars “blind” in critical areas used by the base’s training aircraft, said George Woodward, the Air Force Base’s spokesman. He explained that the tips of the turbine blades can move at hundreds miles an hour, movement that the base’s radar sees as a moving target.
That creates an area where radar operators cannot distinguish between the turbine’s blades and an aircraft, making it impossible to identify aircraft and redirect those in potentially dangerous situations or on collision courses.
Innergex spokeswoman Karine Vachon said several months of analysis and discussion with the military led to the company’s decision to withdraw its FAA permits. She said Innergex will continue to seek solutions acceptable to all parties, including the possibility of alternative sites.
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