The reporting on Texas Senate Bill 277 has consistently failed to accurately depict the current laws that thoughtfully assess the compatibility of wind energy projects in proximity to military bases. In response to flawed and inaccurate reporting from a Wichita Falls news station, Wind Coalition President Jeff Clark sent the following response. For the benefit of the public relying on them for accurate information, entities who have the power to produce and broadcast news stories, should work to make sure they tell all of the story.
Dear (KFDX Reporter):
Just watched your report on wind farms near Sheppard Air Force Base.
My major concern is that you took video from an interview conducted outside a Wichita Falls legislative committee hearing more than 6 months ago but didn’t put my comments in context. My words implied that we, the wind development community, should decide whether or not to build a project. To be clear, wind energy developers don’t have the authority to determine, and we don’t want to have the authority to determine, whether a wind farm is safe or compatible with a military facility. That is the role of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), working with the military base in the area.
That process is conducted through the DoD Siting Clearinghouse which was not mentioned in your story, and is never mentioned in Colonel Manning’s comments. In fact, Sheppard AFB is currently in the process of working with the DoD Clearinghouse and the wind energy developer, in this instance Alterra, to analyze impacts on radar and flight patterns and to make certain that the Alterra project is compatible with he work of Sheppard Air Force Base.
If their are impacts on the radar or missions that cannot be mitigated, the project will not be built. In some cases, wind developers have addressed identified issues by through mitigation steps including moving turbines, canceling projects, by paying for hardware and/or software upgrades to radar systems, and others. Here is a link to a US Navy announcement of an agreement in South Texas that addressed concerns at a base there: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=66595 The Times Record News has covered these agreements here: http://archive.timesrecordnews.com/business/documents-show-deals-between-dod-wind-farms-elsewhere-in-texas-3075c897-da70-7b18-e053-0100007f81f3-375960121.html
Your story clearly took some time and effort to produce, but I believe your viewers and readers would be better served by getting the whole story and not another commercial for Colonel Manning’s inaccurate assertions. Sheppard AFB personnel, as the Times Record News also reported, have been working with local wind opposition to attack these projects since long before any technical assessment of their impacts had been conducted and, in fact, before the project developer had even announced the planned locations of the turbines: http://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2016/11/22/emails-show-sheppard-plan-defeating-wind-farms/94223356/
The economic viability of our military bases should be the top priority and we should continue to work together to ensure that no wind project is constructed if it negatively impacts the mission of the base. As mentioned above, there are processes in place to assess those impacts on a technical basis and to take steps to address any impacts, or to stop projects that are incompatible. I wish that they had been discussed in your story.
28% of Texas wind fleet operates in proximity to military facilities and does so safely and without causing any negative impacts. No Texas wind farm has been built over the objection of the military or the FAA. By following the federal process and using data – not conjecture and hyperbole – to assess projects, we can ensure that private property values are maintained and that landowners’ rights are ensured except in cases where our military’s mission justifies taking them away.
Attacking projects before those assessments are made is unfair to the private rural landowners and school districts relying on this development to help improve their own economic future. It is unfair to Texas consumers who benefit from the cleaner, cheaper electricity that these projects provide.
Thank you for your consideration of my concerns. Call any time.
Jeffrey Clark, President
The Wind Coalition