Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 07/14/2010

Increased Review Sought For Wind Farms Near Defense Department Radar Sites

On June 29, 2010, the House Armed Services subcommittee held a hearing on the compatibility of wind farms and military installations. Military officials testified that wind turbines can interfere with radar and other military operations. This is because wind turbines create “clutter” – reflections of radar signals from towers and blades – that reduce radar accuracy.

According to reports, Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, reported that wind turbines alter the electromagnetic environment and hinder new weapons testing. Nonetheless, Robyn assured the subcommittee that the “vast majority” of proposed wind farms do not create any problems for the Department of Defense (“DOD”) and that the overall problem is “solvable.” Robyn and Nancy Kalinowski, Vice President of System Operations Services for the Federal Aviation Administration, support increasing the current 30-day notice requirements proponents must file before wind turbine development begins.

Stu Webster, on behalf of the American Wind Energy Association, stated that a better system is needed to address wind farming and military compatibility issues. Webster also advocated improved transparency for DOD analysis regarding compatibility. The DOD and wind industry agree that wind turbines, radar, and military training can co-exist. Nevertheless, Webster noted that while language in the “House Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act” aims to establish a single entity that would make the DOD solely responsible for reviewing proposed wind projects, the proposal of “military mission impact zones” would make it difficult, if not impossible, to site wind farms.

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