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Horicon wind farm permit on hold, could interfere with Air Force radar

BROWNSVILLE, Wis. (AP) - A permit for a proposed wind farm in Horicon is on hold while the federal government studies how the facility could affect a radar used by the Air Force.

Wildlife groups against the project because of its proximity to the Horicon Marsh are hopeful that the potential interference could shelve the Forward Wind Energy Center. A preliminary study by the Federal Aviation Administration said the turbines could interfere with the radar's ability to track suspicious planes.

"This has now become an issue of air navigation safety and national security," said Curt Kindschuh, with Horicon Marsh System Advocates. "It could possibly, in my opinion, kill it."

The Air Force is now studying how building as many as 133 turbines could affect the Brownsville-area radar.

The FAA's Bruce Beard said the issue has come up with several wind power projects, including another one in Texas and a 33-wind turbine project by We Energies also located near Horicon. The utility canceled its agreement with the project's developer last year.

The issue is new because of the military's new roles in air space surveillance following the Sept. 11 attacks, Beard said. The Air Force, using its own radar equipment and that of the FAA, tracks and potentially intercepts planes that lose radio contact with the FAA, he said.

Wind turbines close to a radar can block the signal for many miles, meaning... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wildlife groups against the project because of its proximity to the Horicon Marsh are hopeful that the potential interference could shelve the Forward Wind Energy Center. A preliminary study by the Federal Aviation Administration said the turbines could interfere with the radar's ability to track suspicious planes.
 
"This has now become an issue of air navigation safety and national security," said Curt Kindschuh, with Horicon Marsh System Advocates. "It could possibly, in my opinion, kill it."
 
The Air Force is now studying how building as many as 133 turbines could affect the Brownsville-area radar.
 
The FAA's Bruce Beard said the issue has come up with several wind power projects, including another one in Texas and a 33-wind turbine project by We Energies also located near Horicon. The utility canceled its agreement with the project's developer last year.
 
The issue is new because of the military's new roles in air space surveillance following the Sept. 11 attacks, Beard said. The Air Force, using its own radar equipment and that of the FAA, tracks and potentially intercepts planes that lose radio contact with the FAA, he said.
 
Wind turbines close to a radar can block the signal for many miles, meaning aircraft at lower altitudes could fly undetected, he said. It's possible that other radars in the Horicon area could allow the military to detect such low-flying aircraft but the analysis is not yet complete, Beard said.
 
The Pentagon is preparing to release a report to Congress in May on the impact of wind turbines on military radar systems.
 
"So right now we're trying to figure out how we're going to commingle with everybody getting most of what they want, without damaging our radar service and without preventing the use of wind turbines being developed," said Beard, national operations manager of obstruction evaluation services at the FAA.
 
Invenergy LLC, the company behind the project, said it is evaluating the issue, said Neil Palmer, spokesman for the Chicago-based company.
 
The proposed $250 million wind farm is expected to power 72,000 homes.
 
Invenergy had hoped to begin construction as soon as next month, depending on the outcome of a court challenge filed by marsh advocates. That case was expected to be heard Thursday in Dodge County Circuit Court.


Source: http://www.journaltimes.com...

MAR 24 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1845-horicon-wind-farm-permit-on-hold-could-interfere-with-air-force-radar
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