Article

Air Force isn't trying to act as 'Doctor No'

Col. Howard "Dave" Belote, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at the Nellis Air Force Training Range, pledged to work together early in the process on projects like renewable energy in an attempt to dispel the military's image as an obstacle. "We're not trying to stop development, but we want to say we're here, we're going to be here for a long time," Belote told Nye County Commissioners Tuesday.

Col. Howard "Dave" Belote, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at the Nellis Air Force Training Range, pledged to work together early in the process on projects like renewable energy in an attempt to dispel the military's image as an obstacle.

"We're not trying to stop development, but we want to say we're here, we're going to be here for a long time," Belote told Nye County Commissioners Tuesday. "If you come to us early we can do a lot of things early to work into your planning so we develop compatibly."

The U.S. Air Force has come under some criticism for blocking plans, like an eleventh hour rejection of a wind and solar project planned by M and N Wind Power on the Nevada Test Site back in 2002.

Recently developers for solar and wind projects have been dealing with Air Force concerns over radar at the nearby Nellis Air Force Range.

Belote conceded, "Renewable energy pressures are huge."

He said the military is taking a holistic look at Air Force and Army ranges across the southwest to decide where they can say yes to such projects.

"If you overlay the greatest solar potential and the greatest geothermal potential on the continent with our map you'll see that they pretty... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Col. Howard "Dave" Belote, commander of the 99th Air Base Wing at the Nellis Air Force Training Range, pledged to work together early in the process on projects like renewable energy in an attempt to dispel the military's image as an obstacle.

"We're not trying to stop development, but we want to say we're here, we're going to be here for a long time," Belote told Nye County Commissioners Tuesday. "If you come to us early we can do a lot of things early to work into your planning so we develop compatibly."

The U.S. Air Force has come under some criticism for blocking plans, like an eleventh hour rejection of a wind and solar project planned by M and N Wind Power on the Nevada Test Site back in 2002.

Recently developers for solar and wind projects have been dealing with Air Force concerns over radar at the nearby Nellis Air Force Range.

Belote conceded, "Renewable energy pressures are huge."

He said the military is taking a holistic look at Air Force and Army ranges across the southwest to decide where they can say yes to such projects.

"If you overlay the greatest solar potential and the greatest geothermal potential on the continent with our map you'll see that they pretty much coincide with the Nevada Test and Training Range," he said.

Belote said he had 30 minutes alone recently with President Obama and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"I got to say, Mr. President, we recognize energy independence is as vital an asset to national security as military readiness and what we need to do is figure out where in Southern Nevada military training has to take precedence and where energy independence has to take precedence," Belote said.

While the Clean Renewable Energy Development Act outlines stakeholders like the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Energy, he said the U.S. Department of Defense isn't mentioned and should be.

"We will sit down and meet with anybody," Belote said. But he added, "There are some extremely sensitive capabilities."

Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley was full of praise for the military mission. But she inquired about when the commission will get answers to questions on various projects and noted there are 36 applications for renewable energy projects in Nye County alone.

Solar photovoltaic technology is largely compatible with the Air Force's mission, Belote said. But he said the Air Force had problems with plans by one company for an 800-foot cooling tower for a solar project in Tonopah, which creates an unacceptable level of background noise for crews trying to measure radar returns down to hundredths of a decibel.

A solar project proposed in Coyote Springs in Lincoln County east of the range has to have mirrors capable of handling 3.2 pounds per square inch of overpressure, what an F-22 flying at a speed of 1.3 Mach generates 5,000 feet above ground, Belote said.

Proponents of a proposed prison in Rachel would have to install downward facing lighting so as not to create too much light pollution, which would spoil night vision goggle training, Belote said.

"One of the reasons the U.S. military is so asymmetrically capable is we own the night. We have to be able to train with that," he said.

Belote had some pointers for developers.

"Low is good. Very tall, very radar reflective is very problematic, particularly north and west of the range," Belote said. "If it's low profile, 50 feet or lower, we're inclined to say yes once we dot a couple i's and cross a couple t's.

"Get to us early. We will start feeding the people early who can crunch the numbers. We are trying to push DOD to create an office that will do this throughout the Southwest. We at Nellis are responsible for 41 percent of the air force's land. We absolutely don't want a developer to spend thousands or hundreds of thousands on a site study and at the eleventh hour say we don't like this. We don't also like to be seen as Doctor No."

But Belote jokingly called the Pentagon "the largest, most unwieldy bureaucracy ever created by man" and admitted the Air Force was behind the curve when it came to renewable energy projects and is now trying to get ahead of it.

"If we can find a way to mitigate any potential impacts, we will, so this area can grow and become the clean renewable energy engine of the Southwest," Belote said.

Nellis officials showed a slide presentation outlining their role in the country's defense. Belote said the U.S. Air Force has about 7 million acres of land under active management at Nellis AFB, about 2.9 million acres of which lies in Nye County.

The 2.9 million acres he called "the most incredible ground acres that ever existed."

"We have an expanse and a reach that you don't find in any other Air Force base in the world," Belote said. "It's almost the size of Switzerland, so we can cram hundreds of planes with the most sophisticated systems in this area."

In twice-annual exercises in Pahrump that simulate urban warfare, Air Force pilots try to find airmen acting as terrorists communicating by satellite phone and target them with an airborne laser.

"What the Air Force figured out in the late '60s, doing the numbers from Vietnam, if a pilot is going to die in combat, it's going to happen in the first 10 sorties," Belote said. "What we do on the Nellis Air Force Training Range, we give those first 10 sorties without bullets. There are probably hundreds of pilots alive today, air crew alive today, because of the training they got here in Southern Nevada."


Source: http://www.pahrumpvalleytim...

JUN 19 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20736-air-force-isn-t-trying-to-act-as-doctor-no
back to top