Articles filed under Safety from Texas
The fight to beat back the perceived encroachment of wind energy developments on military airspace in Texas is being re-ignited this legislative session. This month, Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) filed a Senate Bill 277, which attempts to limit tax incentives to wind farms built within 30 miles of military bases.
The study is in and the findings confirm what common sense tells us -- that rows and rows of towering, spinning wind turbines pose a challenge to Navy flight training. And it just so happens that an 86-turbine wind farm is in the early stages of construction on the southern edge of this city that has been home to naval air training since before we entered World War II.
The Military Aviation Safety Act aims to amend the state's tax code, specifically the portion that relates to tax abatements for property in "reinvestment zones" that sometimes encompass school districts and other taxing entities.
Future wind farm projects in Clay County might have to be put on hold after new regulations were recently put in place. Energy producers are now required to notify the Department of Defense and complete a "screening study" before connecting to the Texas power.
Shortly after the firefighters arrived, Roye said, one of the burning blades broke loose and fell to the ground, causing a pendulum motion where the wind turbine began to sway back and forth. A second burning blade then broke loose and fell to the ground.
"No one is talking about banning wind turbines, but we do have to be careful when we talk about their proximity" to bases, said Cornyn, R-Texas. "We're just trying to make sure it's safe for our pilots, both those in the military and those who use civilian aircraft."
Sheppard Air Force Base has asserted that proposed wind developments in nearby Clay County would interfere with its radar operation and flight training missions. If erected, wind turbines in a 25-mile radius of the base could cause Sheppard's mission to be moved to another military installation, a move that likely would be a crippling blow to the Wichita Falls economy.
The increasing case number may be a harbinger of a new trend — in Texas and other states, legislators are moving to create buffer zones between military installations and new energy developments. That means more reviews are being sent to the clearinghouse for rulings.
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.
Alterra and their developer, Horn Wind PM LLC, also are entering into informal talks with the Federal Aviation Administration and a Department of Defense agency overseeing obstructional analyses for the military. No construction plans have been sent by Horn Wind or Alterra to the FAA, which would trigger a formal analysis of potential hazards.
There are still questions about the cumulative impacts of wind farms — the proposed site, combined with existing and future sites — on the radar system, as well as the proximity of the planned wind farm to the airport, said Kim Bridger-Hunt, spokeswoman for the airport. The airport plans to petition the FAA to review its findings, she added.
Firefighters on scene said there wasn’t much they could do except let it burn out.
New York State can’t allow the installation of these wind turbines to threaten Air Force pilot safety, and Cuomo can’t run the risk of giving the base closing commission any reason to shut down NFARS. Lives are at risk; jobs are at risk; the future of the air base is at risk.
"There are more instances of wind farms near bases due to growth in the highly subsidized renewable energy sector and they present a unique and growing challenge to our military installations," Campbell wrote in an email to the Times Record News. "It is my priority as chairman to ensure our military installations remain mission capable, both for our nation's security and the huge economic impact they bring to communities across our state."
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.
"We're actually making our military installations more vulnerable to closing when our military bases are situated surrounded by wind turbines," Campbell said. "We don't want that." "If we don't have enough pilots, then anything that affects pilot training ... is a threat to our defense," she added.
How leaders address concerns over wind turbine development has far-reaching ramifications for the future of flight training programs at NAS-Corpus Christi and NAS-Kingsville at a time when Base Realignment and Closures are on everyone's lips.
Vocal opponents to the wind farm plans have come forward in past months, but last week another adversary emerged: Sheppard Air Force Base.
Earlier plans for a 175-turbine wind farm drew criticism last year from Chapman Ranch residents who were concerned about diminishing property values, safety and changes to the area's aesthetics. Those plans were submitted to the FAA before Apex voluntarily withdrew all wind turbines in the blueprint from the new Corpus Christi City limits, after the city annexed the property last year. A study determined the project could interfere with radar.
City leaders worked hard to block this wind farm eventually annexing a lot of the property out there to have more control over what built. Ironically the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now blocked it on its own.