FAA Obstruction Study Used Invalid Turbine Height

Industrial Wind Action Group finds Elk River Wind Project turbine heights incorrectly filed with FAA; Concerns raised over politicization of radar studies and effect on aviation safety

NEW HAMPSHIRE (September 19, 2006). Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group has learned that the owners of the Elk River Wind Project [1], Kansas’ largest, in-service wind facility with 100 turbines, have been asked to resubmit FAA form 7460-1 after it was recently discovered the obstruction evaluation study was conducted based on inaccurate turbine heights. The project’s original developers reported the turbine heights at only 262-feet when the overall height, including the spinning blade assembly, is 389-feet. The FAA requires form 7460-1 [2] be filed for each turbine in a wind facility prior to construction and if any changes in turbine height or location are made following completion of the obstruction study, new forms must be submitted and the effect of the change reevaluated.

"The wind industry understands the purpose of notifying the FAA of plans to construct the giant towers,” said Lisa Linowes, Executive Director of Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group. “When our air safety is at issue, there is no excuse for inaccurate reporting of information, not on something this serious.” An official with the FAA confirmed last week that it did not have the resources to check on the accuracy of the information reported via 7460 forms, such as comparing a proposed obstacle's final height or the coordinates of the object with its location after construction.

Linowes also made clear that high-profile actions taken by Sierra Club [3 ] this summer to exert political and legal pressure on the Department of Defense to rush its study of wind turbine impacts on military radar could have a dangerous effect on our commercial air safety in addition to our national security. “The politicization of this effort must stop,” she said pointing to the September 12, 2006 letter [4 ] signed by three dozen members of Congress demanding the White House take action to influence the timing and outcome of the Defense Department study. Linowes argued that U.S. defense and FAA experts should be telling Congress what they need in time and resources to do the job right and not the other way around. “When one considers how little wind energy can contribute to our U.S. energy mix and the inability of wind to deliver base load electricity, it’s hard to understand why our political leaders would take this misguided step. I hope we don’t have to have an accident first before people take these studies seriously,” Linowes added.

Industrial Wind Action Group seeks to promote knowledge and raise awareness of the risks and damaging environmental impacts of industrial wind energy development. Information and analysis on the subject is available through its website, www.windaction.org.


[1] http://www.windaction.org/pictures/4255
[2] https://www.oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaaEXT/portal.jsp
[3] http://www.sierraclub.org/environmentallaw/lawsuits/viewCase.asp?id=318
[4] http://www.gil.house.gov/Newsroom/Press/2006/SEP/091306en.htm

Iwa Release 20060919

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SEP 19 2006
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