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Wind power projects idled - Lawmakers object to radar-study delay

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from Minnesota and Wisconsin are urging the federal government to quickly resolve delays on wind energy projects caused by a Department of Defense study of whether wind turbines interfere with military radar.

The Federal Aviation Administration told more than a dozen wind developers in the Midwest their projects may not get safety permits until the study is finished. It's not clear when the study will be done.

Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, plans to circulate a letter among Senate colleagues this week that would urge the FAA to work with wind energy managers to come up with a resolution.

"There is no question we must always be diligent where our homeland security is concerned," he said in a statement, "but we must not lose sight of our energy security, which will be jeopardized if this situation is not remedied as soon as possible."

Last week, Wisconsin Reps. Ron Kind and Tammy Baldwin, both Democrats, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging that the final report include workable solutions to any problems identified.

The letter was signed by 20 other House members, including Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and six Minnesota lawmakers.

And on June 2, six senators, including Wisconsin Democrats Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, wrote to the FAA warning that even a temporary ban on wind projects "would be a considerable setback for efforts to increase our country's energy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Federal Aviation Administration told more than a dozen wind developers in the Midwest their projects may not get safety permits until the study is finished. It's not clear when the study will be done.

Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, plans to circulate a letter among Senate colleagues this week that would urge the FAA to work with wind energy managers to come up with a resolution.

"There is no question we must always be diligent where our homeland security is concerned," he said in a statement, "but we must not lose sight of our energy security, which will be jeopardized if this situation is not remedied as soon as possible."

Last week, Wisconsin Reps. Ron Kind and Tammy Baldwin, both Democrats, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urging that the final report include workable solutions to any problems identified.

The letter was signed by 20 other House members, including Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., and six Minnesota lawmakers.

And on June 2, six senators, including Wisconsin Democrats Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, wrote to the FAA warning that even a temporary ban on wind projects "would be a considerable setback for efforts to increase our country's energy independence."

Minnesota is fourth in the nation in wind energy installed, and Wisconsin is 20th, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a Washington trade group.

The stalled projects are in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Illinois, said Lori Jodziewicz, an association spokesman. They've received notices of "presumed hazard" that effectively prohibit construction until the wind farm proposals are reviewed further or until the DOD report is concluded.

"We're really hoping it's a small speed bump in an otherwise record year," Jodziewicz said.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said that her agency has a backlog of cases to review because of an increase in wind project applications.

"If there is something that could possibly be a threat, we work to mitigate it," she said. "We work with these folks."

Defense Department officials were not immediately available for comment Monday.

Steve Roalstad, a spokesman for Xcel Energy in Minneapolis, said that the company has two projects planned for southern Minnesota that are on hold because of the delay. The company wants to get the projects done by the end of next year.

Mike Donahue, executive vice president of Midwest Wind Energy LLC in Chicago, said that a project slated near Hartford, Wis., has been held up. That project would be under construction now had it not been for the Defense Department review, he said.

"My personal livelihood is being affected," he said. "The problem we have is that everything's done in a vacuum, so there's no certainty at all. We'd like to get some definitive information on the scope and schedule of the report."


Source: http://www.twincities.com/m...

JUN 20 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3127-wind-power-projects-idled-lawmakers-object-to-radar-study-delay
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