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Wind project tests sites with FAA

The company proposing a wind farm for Morgan County has submitted test sites to the Federal Aviation Administration for evaluation.

Apex Clean Energy and the Lincoln Land Wind project filed information for 15 599-foot turbines June 14, according to the FAA website.

Apex Clean Energy said in a statement the filings were test sites that the company submitted “to ensure aviation security is protected and flight paths near the project are known.”

Five of the locations are north of Alexander, past Interstate 72, and four are south of the town. Two locations are between Arnold and Pisgah, and four are south of Pisgah.

Apex Clean Energy chose to file test locations for Lincoln Land Wind – in addition to the FAA filings it would typically submit for a project – to identify airspace restrictions in the footprint of the area where the company is proposing to construct wind turbines.

The aim of filing the test sites is safety, according to Holly McCoy, Apex Clean Energy senior development manager.

“We filed ‘test locations’ with the FAA prior to a final filing to make sure we understand airspace use so that we can design the safest project possible,” McCoy said in a statement. “The 599-foot tip height represents the max we would file and is not indicative of what we will use. These 15 test turbine locations do not represent locations where turbines will definitely be placed. Before we submit the final layout to the FAA the county must complete its ordinance revision process so we know where we can and cannot place turbines. Before we build, final points will be filed with the FAA that represent actual turbine locations.”

The Morgan County Commission is expected to vote on a proposed wind ordinance next month. The commissioners and the regional planning commission have been drafting the revised ordinance in recent months to address concerns about setbacks, permitting and approval processes, and regulations on flicker, among other issues.

The FAA, in order to promote air safety, conducts aeronautical studies based on information provided on proposed construction and alteration of structures that could affect navigable airspace. Filing requirements are dependent on factors including height, proximity to an airport, location and frequencies emitted from the structure.

Regulations on obstruction marking and lighting set standards for marking structures, such as buildings, chimneys, antenna towers, cooling towers, storage tanks or supporting structures of overhead wires.

Also filed recently with the FAA for projects in Morgan County were the permanent construction of transmission lines and the temporary construction of cranes.

The regulatory agency has evaluated 35 50- to 90-foot Ameren transmission line structures to be constructed between Aug. 15 of this year and Feb. 28 of 2021. Ameren filed the information April 25 and the evaluations were completed June 13.

The FAA will also evaluate 35 70- to 100-foot cranes that will temporarily constructed between Aug. 15 of this year and Feb. 28 of 2021. Those filings were received by the FAA June 13.

An Ameren representative was not available Friday night to comment on whether the transmission lines were related to the wind project. Jaclyn Friedley, director of public engagement for Apex Clean Energy, said the transmission lines and cranes are not associated with the company or Lincoln Land Wind.