The Sacramento Municipal Utility District wind turbine project outside Travis Air Force Base is a real slap in the face to Solano County residents and puts the base at risk of closure. (See DR article, Aug. 27, 2021.)
For 20 years, I have watched as each wind turbine project was added to the skyline in the name of renewable energy. We are well into the second generation of turbines on these sites and sadly no one is looking at the incremental encroachment to Travis Air Force Base.
A base closure happens when a community stops protecting its base, puts too many obstacles in the way of the base performing its mission, and sells out to profiteers.
Base Realignment and Closure is a term that no one likes to hear. It’s when the Department of Defense decides to close a base as part of efficiency and reorganization. Our community experienced the economic pain of a BRAC in 1996 with the closing of Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. We don’t want to repeat that.
The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission found the SMUD project was not consistent with the Travis Air Force Base Land Use and Compatibility Plan – a plan created in partnership with Travis officials to ensure their ability to conduct current operations and expand in the future. SMUD totally ignored concerns that Solano County officials have raised about the importance of Travis to our local economy and our national defense.
SMUD staff were dismissive of the negative consequences of increasing the height of 39 wind turbines from 300 to 500 feet, and yet wind turbines have affected flight approaches and caused radar interference for years. At what point does Travis get added to a BRAC list? What height will be the next generation of wind turbines?
SMUD “looked at other location options” but the criteria was profitability and the Travis location provided the most. Ironically, the energy generated by these turbines only benefits customers in Sacramento while our community and Travis deal with the negative consequences.
Travis Air Force Base is Solano County’s largest employer with a $1.6 billion annual budget. Putting renewable energy generation and profit ahead of protecting the base is irresponsible. Let’s not risk our community and the viability of Travis Air Force Base. It’s not too late for Solano County residents to tell SMUD to pick another location.
Jim Spering is a member of the Solano County Board of Supervisor and represents the 3rd District.
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