Library filed under Safety from North Carolina
On Friday, the legislature made public its $110,000 contract with AECOM, a global engineering firm with an office in Morrisville, to chart the areas of the state where wind turbines could interfere with military bases. The study – which must be completed by next May – is part of an 18-month moratorium on wind farms enacted in July.
In signing wide-ranging solar legislation into law last week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order to blunt the impact of the bill’s 18-month moratorium on wind power – tacked on amid controversy in the legislative session’s final hours.
Changes introduced on Wednesday include giving the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs the authority to issue permits to wind-farm proposals if it determines there would be no significant adverse impact on military activities.
A proposal that would severely curtail wind farm development in North Carolina failed to pass a House committee Wednesday after retired military officials condemned it as regulatory overkill that would eliminate a valuable source of income for local landowners.
A bill cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Walter Jones is designed to curb construction of wind farms near military installations but will not affect the nearly completed $400 million Amazon Wind Farm US East project, a spokeswoman for the congressman said Wednesday.
Donald Trump has encouraged his cabinet nominees to take the initiative as soon as they’re on the job, and one area ripe for action is reversing the Obama Administration’s habit of letting its green-energy obsessions interfere with national defense. A good place to start is reviewing a wind farm that could compromise a crucial U.S. defense radar in southern Virginia.
A group of North Carolina legislators want to see a recently opened wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties shut down over what they say is interference with military radar.
The legislators said they worry that the 300-foot-tall wind turbine towers with blades nearly 200 feet long will interfere with a long-distance Navy radar installation in nearby Chesapeake, Virginia. The radar system scans hundreds of miles into the Atlantic and Caribbean for ships and planes.
This year’s bill, The Military Operations Protection Act, was pitched by the senator as a way to make sure projects aren’t built that are incompatible with military flight paths. But critics have called it an attack on wind energy since it eliminates much of the state, including major portions of Eastern North Carolina, as potential sites for wind energy projects.
“Make no mistake – if we fail to fully protect our military installations, decision-makers in Washington could award them to states that will, and our local communities will be left picking up the pieces. Three taxpayer subsidized wind projects that create few jobs for North Carolinians should not take priority over the hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars that we could jeopardize if we fail to stand up for our military.”
While at least two Texas legislators are drafting proposals that would limit the construction of wind turbines near military bases, a similar effort is underway in North Carolina.
The legislation, House Bill 763, prohibits the skyscraping wind turbines from going up in military flight paths. The bill, which applies safety standards that are stricter than those typically used by the Department of Defense, passed the state Senate this week and now awaits a vote in the House.
The bill, which now heads to the House after a 33-14 vote, would prohibit the facilities in a large swatch of central and eastern North Carolina. The measure got support from senators concerned that allowing tall wind turbines in low-altitude training routes for jets and helicopter would strike a blow against preserving units at military installations.
“This new regulation will clearly prevent land-based wind farms in North Carolina,” he said. “Wind farms would be barred in every color (zone) that you see on the map. Much of the remaining area includes major urban centers or are places otherwise unsuitable for wind energy. … No wind developer will commit millions of dollars to develop a project that will have to hit a moving regulatory target … If this passes in its current form, there’s likely to be no future land-based wind energy in North Carolina.”
Under the bill, wind facilities would not be allowed in areas described in a color-coded map, which measures the height of military aircraft training flights. The map was created by a company hired by the state, Brown said, and differs from an air traffic pattern map the Pentagon uses.
"The national security threat must be resolved prior to allowing access to the site," the agreement says. The federal government includes concerns like that in contracts all over the world, Poff said.
Military jets will not be able to safely swoop in low for combat training at the Dare County Bombing Range if 30-story wind turbines stand in the way, according to a military report. The Department of Defense seeks to establish a joint land-use study or agreement with eastern North Carolina counties that would limit construction of wind farms.
Commanders of bases like Cherry Point air station and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base cannot approve or oppose any wind turbine project under orders from the U.S. Secretary of Defense. This bill requires that they be notified and would allow hearings on proposed wind turbine projects, which lie in the flight path or training areas for the military.
An F-15E Strike Eagle drops through the sky on a low-level training mission and encounters - a wind turbine. With turbine blades reaching within 8 feet of F-15s on missions out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the proposed Pantego Wind Energy project resulted in a serious risk.
Wind turbine blades can distort radar image for both pilots and ground control. That distortion can make it difficult for Marine training exercises as well as make it more dangerous to fly. "It clutters what is otherwise a crisp and clear radar display."