In the past, the Department of Defense and wind energy developers in Texas have been able to work out agreements when conflicts have arisen between the two parties, contracts show.
This stands in contrast to remarks made earlier this month by a Sheppard Air Force Base colonel who said wind energy plans in Clay County could force Sheppard to move its flight training operations to another Air Force base. Contracts between the DoD and alternative energy companies in Nueces and Parmer counties show the entities have worked cooperatively to mitigate interference with military operations.
In Nueces County last year, Chapman Ranch Wind Farm entered into an agreement with the government to curtail wind energy operations when asked to do so by the Navy. This "temporary cessation" of wind turbine operations generally applies to establishing baselines, performing flight checks or conducting other tests, according to the contract.
In agreeing to turbine curtailment and paying a maximum of $375,000 to the DoD, the Chapman Ranch Wind farm won language in the agreement that the government would not "posit any objection to the construction and operation of the Wind Project" under certain parameters.
"In order to mitigate the potential impact of the Wind Project upon the operations and readiness of the Navy, the Parties have worked cooperatively and will continue to work cooperatively to meet the desired goals of supporting military operations and readiness simultaneously with the production of renewable energy," the agreement reads.
Buzz around possible wind projects in Clay County began last year, leading opponents of the developments to organize and host town hall meetings about the dangers of the projects.
Despite this, plans for two projects in the county have moved forward and at least 20 landowners have signed leases with Alterra Power Corp., a Canadian alternative energy company.
The two projects are expected to cost approximately $450 million combined.
In early April, a town hall meeting was called in Henrietta where base leaders apprised attendees of how the wind projects could negatively affect the operation of government radar systems, along with how they could marginalize flight training missions. The message was clear: if the wind projects reach fruition, Sheppard's flight missions could be moved elsewhere.
If Sheppard's missions were moved, it could affect the North Texas economy by $750 million or more.
A representative of Horn Wind PM LLC has told the Times Record News that Sheppard has not been willing to cooperate to find a workable solution for both parties.
In December 2014, an agreement similar to the Nueces deal was reached between the Air Force and Scandia Wind Southwest LLC in Parmer County, despite an initial conflict between two entities.
In that contract, Scandia agreed to limit the number of wind turbines to 114 and the height of the turbines to 497 feet. Per the agreement, the DoD promised to not object to the project under certain conditions.
Read the DoD's agreement with Scandia Southwest Wind LLC below: