by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Carolina Journal reporting over the years has shown there are serious consequences to how wind facilities affect local communities and military installations.
Massive turbines can disrupt military flight paths and training and also interfere with radar surveillance capabilities, hampering the military’s tracking of aircraft and ships suspected of transporting illegal drugs to the U.S.
For that reason, the North Carolina General Assembly imposed a temporary permitting moratorium for wind energy facilities (or expansions) to allow for study of how those facilities impact military operations.
North Carolina isn’t the only state with this problem, either. New York lawmakers are also wrestling with the issue of what can be done about wind turbines interfering with military radar.
Today, Carolina Journal issued a big report on the Amazon Wind Farm that finds that not only is its interference with military radar still a concern, but also the facility doesn’t have the production it promised:
After operating a little more than a year, the Amazon Wind Farm, North Carolina’s only large-scale wind energy project, continues to cause concerns. The project — located in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties near Elizabeth City — generated just 75 percent of its expected power. Military officials also remain uneasy about the wind farm’s interference with a sophisticated radar facility that provides crucial intelligence for the United States.
Interference with military operations may be the project’s Achilles’ heel — and it may spell trouble for other large wind projects considered for the region. Last year, North Carolina legislative leaders asked the Trump administration to consider shutting down the $400-million, 208-megawatt, 104-turbine project. State lawmakers said the massive turbines would interfere with the U. S. Navy’s Relocatable Over-the-Horizon-Radar facility, or ROTHR, in southern Virginia, bordering North Carolina’s Currituck County.
The sophisticated ROTHR receiver plays a key role in the military’s tracking of aircraft and ships suspected of transporting illegal drugs and other banned substances to the United States. The Navy commissioned a study on the interference which will be released this spring, Katisha Draughn-Fraguada, a public affairs officer for Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, told Carolina Journal.
Nor has local opposition to the project eased. Currituck County Commissioner Paul Beaumont, a former U. S. Navy pilot, recently toured the ROTHR facility. He said ROTHR personnel made it clear to him that the Amazon Wind Farm has degraded signal reception. ROTHR has trouble detecting and identifying targets of interest, including fast moving and semi-submersible watercraft, because of interference from the wind farm.
“In the name of national security, I want wind farms to be removed as a permitted use in Currituck County,” he said, and he will ask fellow commissioners to support the change. …
Further down CJ reports that Amazon and Avangrid said its production would be enough to power “more than 61,000 homes a year.”
Fortunately that’s just a rhetorical device to suggest how much power it could be producing. It doesn’t mean 61,000 homeowner’s actual homes are powered by the facility. That’d be crazy and dangerous; it would mean they’d be entirely susceptible to the fickleness and unpredictability of intermittent winds.
Plus, it would also mean that over 15,250 homes weren’t getting any power at all.