Advertisement

Archive for Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pentagon could scuttle giant wind-farm plan

April 17, 2010

Advertisement

— One of the Obama administration’s prime initiatives — the development of sources of alternative energy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, create American jobs and combat climate change — is being undermined by the Defense Department. The department is threatening to scuttle what promises to be the world’s largest wind farm in eastern Oregon, arguing that the giant turbines could interfere with the Air Force’s radar detection system.

Windmills are seen behind blades of grass blown by the wind at the Invenergy Wind Development wind farm near Judith Gap, Mont. The Defense Department has, at the last minute, objected to an Oregon wind farm that would be the world’s largest, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Windmills are seen behind blades of grass blown by the wind at the Invenergy Wind Development wind farm near Judith Gap, Mont. The Defense Department has, at the last minute, objected to an Oregon wind farm that would be the world’s largest, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Caithness Energy had planned to break ground two weeks from now on a 845-megawatt, $2 billion wind farm near Arlington, Ore., a economically depressed rural community. But last month Pentagon officials moved to deny the developer its final Federal Aviation Administration permit.

The move has sparked an intense lobbying battle and White House-led negotiation, as senior Obama officials hope to avert a showdown that could cost 16,000 American jobs. The Pentagon’s objections could jeopardize three other major wind projects by another developer in the same region, along with proposed farms in states from Illinois to Texas.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has halted the confirmation of a senior Pentagon political appointee until the matter is resolved, said the dispute has “significant implications for the country. This is not about one project. It’s about the future of renewable, domestic, clean power.”

The standoff centers on whether the blades of the Shepherds Flat project’s 338 turbines will interfere with the sensors of a radar system in Fossil, Ore. Just this week the British Defense Ministry announced it is ordering a long-range air surveillance radar system from Lockheed Martin that is compatible with wind turbine blades, but Defense officials have given no indication that they are considering adopting a similar system.

The FAA declined to comment on the matter; Pentagon officials did not respond to media requests.

The FAA sent notices to both Caithness Energy, a company that has spent nearly four decades developing renewable energy projects, and an array of local landowners who plan to host wind turbines on their property saying the structures pose “a hazard to air navigation.” In the letter to landowners, the FAA stated any structure zero feet above ground level “exceeds obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities.”

As a result of the FAA’s permit refusal, work has halted on the nine-year venture. The Energy Department has stopped working on the project’s loan-guarantee application; it remains unclear if GE will be able to finish manufacturing the turbines, which represented the company’s largest renewable energy contract of 2009.

Any significant delays in construction could kill the wind farm, according Caithness Energy Executive Vice President Ross Ain, because the project will take 18 months to complete and it will lose its eligibility for federal stimulus funds unless it’s finished by the end of 2012. In addition, the farm is supposed to start supplying power to Southern California Edison by late next year, which is under pressure to meet its state’s strict renewable portfolio standards.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the concerns raised by the Air Force at the 25th hour threatens to crater literally billions of dollars of renewable energy in the United States and tens of thousands of jobs in renewable energy,” Ain said. “We’ve tried to raise it to the highest level of government, to make sure the people in charge are aware of this, because we do not have much time.”

The Pentagon’s move has now put in jeopardy three other nearby wind farm projects by Iberdrola Renewables. Taken together with Shepherds Flat, the projects would produce 3,000 megawatts, an amount of electricity equivalent to three nuclear power plants.

Comments

bearded_gnome 4 years ago

CG Boohoozo, Scott5150, jaylee, et al/loonie liberals: these turbines generate electricity! you idjiots obviously don't know a thing about what you type here!

think: suppose a big wind driven turbine generating electricity might create an electromagnetic field?

have I given you a big fat enough clue???

also, that EMF will vary according to the windspeed and maybe direction depending on design.

you suppose experts in RADAR might understand this better than you do with your foilhats??? btw, Halliburton has a sale so you can get new foilhats two for the price of one, as your present ones are clearly malfunctioning.

0

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

Something is not making sense here. Unless they are trying to detect a cruise missile flying between the towers, I don't understand why the turbines would be different from any other ground clutter.

Any missile, other than a cruise missile, would be way above any effect of wind turbines by the time it reached Eastern OR.

And what is with this, "...any structure zero feet above ground level..." , well, that about covers anything you'd care to regulate, wouldn't it?

Sounds to me like the someone in the military got wind ( :P ) of the project late in the game and wanted to halt the project until it was demonstrated not to interfere with their mission, regardless if their mission was still needed or not.

0

gccs14r 4 years ago

If they want to see submarine launches, wouldn't they be better off having their radar on the coast? By the time the missiles have cleared the Cascades, it's a little late to be phoning in the sighting.

0

gccs14r 4 years ago

I want to know what aerial threats the USAF thinks are going to be picked up from eastern Oregon that won't have already been picked up by several other means first.

0

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Scuttle Xe instead. You know the company formerly known as Blackwater that has been ripping off tax money left and right, and breaking the law left and right.

0

bliddel 4 years ago

'In the letter to landowners, the FAA stated any structure zero feet above ground level “exceeds obstruction standards and/or would have an adverse physical or electromagnetic interference effect upon navigable airspace or air navigation facilities.”'

Good for the FAA! While this seems a little extreme, there really is such a thing as an ILS Critical zone, where even planes are not allowed on the taxiway when an aircraft is on approach. Standards also exist for keeping structures shorter as they are built closer to the end of runways that can be used in bad weather. It is something like 1 foot of height for every 50 feet from the end of the runway, for the first 10,000 feet, and 1 foot per 40 feet up to 40,000 feet from the airport.

I’ve no objection to wind power per se, provided the sites meet environmental concerns. Interference with safe air navigation and/or with national defense RADAR are legitimate disqualifying conditions.

0

Jaylee 4 years ago

I agree with Liberty! BLANKETING, BLAND, NEGATIVE STATEMENTS REGARDING AT THE VERY LEAST, A WHITE HOUSE UPGRADE!!! WOOOOO!!!!!!!

Did you even read the article?

0

Liberty275 4 years ago

anything to block whatever obama tries is fine with me. Payback for the sleaze that gave us mandated payments to corporations.

NO is the only word we need until 2013.

0

Jaylee 4 years ago

So not a genius, but my immediate idea for a solution is to look at the areas with wind farms already in place and note any difference in physical or electromagnetic air space.

Also, if it will make that big of a positive difference for us as a country and in that local area and there are means of updating systems in place to function properly with the wind farms in place, just do it.. Duh?

Any current air space situation can be adjusted I'm sure with less confusion than when Facebook updates its platform.

Sorry to reference FB, but I feel like it's true.

0

paulette2 4 years ago

with over 730 military bases around the globe what do they want?

the whole world?

0

prolifersforwar 4 years ago

Wind. Bah. Coal and Petroleum--It's What's For Dinner! If you don't want skies marbled with black smoke you're a godless hippie.

0

independant1 4 years ago

Think of the birds, kumbaya

0

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Global domination with our military should not be the agenda.

Dollars would be better spent creating a new industry known as new energy sources. A new industry that provides thousands of new jobs to most every state would be a good investment. Money spent by these workers would generate other employment.

This illegal big spending war machine is a money hole which brings on projects such as a billion dollar luxury american embassy in war zone Irag. No such embassy had ever been built ever..... 600 rooms,dining,hair salons,swimming etc etc.

50 or more USA military bases in Iraq alone.... hmmmmmm maybe never leaving Iraq = constant conflict = never ending war spending!!!

It brings on a bogus multi billion dollar"virtual fence" on the southern border that had never been tried and proven.

This war brings on thousands upon thousands upon thousands of disabled vets that will require tax dollar pay for them and their families that which might include college educations for them and their dependents( the hidden costs) = 5 trillion dollars or more over the course of an estimated 50 years of tax dollar support. Medical care is part of this package.

0

tom_bodett 4 years ago

Wow....let the rediculous conspiracy theories roll! Perhaps the wind turbines actually do interfere with the air forces radar systems. Probably want the air force folks to be able to detect incoming missiles and aircraft. I know you people want us all to be able to hold hands and sing songs together. The reality is that people in other countries want to kill us. So like it or not we do need a military, an air force, and radar. So go whine about something else, and don't forget to put the hash pipe down once in a while and take a shower.

0

independant1 4 years ago

US military spending about 4% of GDP, about 28th in the world. Including funding for basic research grants to colleges and univeristies.

0

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

The linkbot has woken. Fear his mad copy/paste skillz.

0

75x55 4 years ago

This delay is perfect to show the wind farm fiasco for the house of cards that it is - built on artificially-generated government requirements, funded with shaky government handouts, and about as practical as a screen door on a submarine with it's non-existent ROI.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Just think 60 cents of every tax dollar is being spent on defense to wage an illegal war and killing thousands of innocent people. Some of those innocent people are OUR soldiers.

The other innocent people are Iraq,Afghanistan,Pakistan,Yemen and Iran men,women and children.

Where are our tax dollars going?

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4120/we_arm_the_world/

0

Stuart Evans 4 years ago

perhaps if we could get back to hemp farming, we could move off of crude oil and begin using hempoil like we did for a couple hundred years in this country.

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Perhaps the Pentagon's real concern is that reduced reliance on petroleum will mean a reduced need for a permanent war machine, and thus reduced funding for the Pentagon.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.