US Air Force Wants to Ground Huge Oregon Wind Power Project

wind turbines at night photo

photo: John Schanlaub via flickr.

What would be the US' largest wind power project, the 845 MW Shepherds Flat wind farm near Arlington, Oregon, is under threat. Not from financing problems which have plagued several other high profile humungous projects, but from the US Air Force. The Washington Post that the USAF is objecting to the project on the grounds that the wind turbines could interfere with radar systems in the area:

The standoff centers on whether the blades of the Shepherds Flat project's 338 turbines would interfere with a radar system in Fossil, Ore., because radar signals reflect off the blades when they're in certain positions. The Pentagon, which did not respond to media queries, shut down national permitting for wind farms for several months in 2006 based on radar concerns, prompting a Sierra Club lawsuit.

What's more, similar objections could shut down three other proposed wind power projects in the same region. Which prompted Oregon senator Ron Wyden to state (with a tinge of hyperbole...), "[This] is not about one project. It's about the future of renewable, domestic, clean power."

Because of the USAF objection, which resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration to refuse a critical permit for the project, work has stopped at Shepherds Flats, the DoE has stopped work on the loan guarantee, and General Electric may not finish manufacturing the turbines for it. Shepherds Flats was the largest renewable energy contract GE had in 2009.

Read more: Washington Post
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