NIAGARA COUNTY: Congressman passes along NIMAC's concerns to federal agencies.
SOMERSET — The Niagara Military Affairs Council has voiced its concerns about a proposal to erect a wind farm along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Niagara County.
NIMAC is a group dedicated to supporting the growth of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. It recently reached out to U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, expressing concerns with APEX Clean Energy's "Lighthouse Wind" proposal and its proximity to the air base.
Apex ie eyeing placement of between 58 and 70 wind turbines, up to 620 feet tall each, along the lakeshore in Somerset and the neighboring town of Yates in Orleans County.
In its letter to Collins, NIMAC stated that the turbines' close proximity to the Niagara air base could hurt the base in the future. The military often looks at encroachment when considering which bases to further invest in, according to the letter.
“Currently, NFARS is ranked favorably in that area and we cannot afford to allow any project to move forward that would jeopardize its future,” the letter stated.
In a letter of his own this week, Collins reached out to John Conger, deputy undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Defense, and Elizabeth Ray, vice president of mission support services for the Federal Aviation Administration, to reiterate NIMAC's concerns about Lighthouse Wind.
“We have serious concerns that these wind turbines will impede the current airspace, making the base less viable for future missions,” Collins wrote.
NFARS is the last federal air base in New York state, as well as the largest federal facility in the area. It employs about 3,000 service members and civilians. It survived the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission's periodic examinations in 1995 and 2005, and also got through an Air Force Structure Adjustment review in 2012.
“With an ever present closure threat to the base and talks of another round in a few years, we can't risk these wind turbines jeopardizing the future of the base and all those who are supported by it,” Collins' letter said.
APEX's proposed project is currently in the "preliminary scoping" period; public comments about it are being accepted until Jan. 6.