Wind turbines & military bases successfully coexist.

The wind industry strongly supports responsible, effective actions to identify and mitigate any potential impacts of proposed wind farms on military installations.

Our fact sheet explaining this issue can be found here, and our white paper examining ways that the wind industry has worked to successfully coexist with military bases can be found here.

Importantly, the Department of Defense (DOD) already has a robust review process to ensure wind farms don’t impact military base operations. And this process works.

Both the DOD and local base commanders review any wind farm proposed near military facilities. If they raise concerns, private developers discuss whether they can make changes to the project, fund radar upgrades or explore other mitigation options. If concerns cannot be addressed, developers move on to other projects.

To AWEA’s knowledge, no project opposed by DOD has ever been built. And no missions nor readiness at bases have been compromised due to the tens of thousands of turbines deployed today. Our nation’s security has been unaffected.

Current procedures for review by FAA, DOD and others

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has legal jurisdiction over structures over 199 feet tall. Utility scale turbines exceed that height. Therefore, developers must submit an application to the FAA for each turbine for a hazard determination prior to construction. As part of that evaluation, the structures are reviewed by the DOD Siting Clearinghouse.  The Clearinghouse coordinates review among multiple DOD departments, including Army, Navy, Marines, Joint Staff NORAD and other offices as well as with local military bases.

The FAA will either issue a Determination of No Hazard or a Determination of Presumed Hazard. This determines whether construction can begin, or it may initiate a process of negotiation and appeal.  Besides triggering the DOD Siting Clearinghouse, the FAA notifies other federal agencies with radar assets about proposed projects, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These agencies have the opportunity to raise objections with the FAA, which they may base a Determination of Presumed Hazard on.

The DOD has also established an early consultation process through the DOD Siting Clearinghouse. This process can alert project developers and DOD to concerns before entering the formal FAA review process. If concerns are identified, discussion on potential mitigation, if any is available, takes place.

Solutions to conflicts with wind turbines & radar

A variety of siting, software and hardware solutions have been implemented to ensure successful coexistence between wind farms and military facilities.

For example, several companies joined the Air Force in a cooperative effort to implement technical mitigation and research that allowed wind farms to expand around Travis Air Force Base in California.

The DOD/Air Force cleared several projects near the Oregon-Washington State border several years ago after MIT Lincoln Labs indicated technical improvements to reduce clutter could be made to the Fossil Radar in Oregon.

And, the DOD/Navy lifted objections to several projects in South Texas after developers signed memorandums of understanding to help fund mitigation options and potentially to limit turbine operations in certain circumstances, if necessary.

Additional off-the-shelf mitigation options were field-tested in collaboration between industry and the DOD, along with the FAA, NOAA and DHS. These options hopefully will be validated and available tfor use in the near future.  The final report found a variety of workable solutions. 

Wind power boosts national security

Wind energy helps strengthen national security by speeding up the path to energy independence. The DOD has advocated for renewable energy for a number of years and has a 25 percent by 2025 renewable energy goal. Wind energy offers a cost-effective way for it to hit that target. Fort Hood, for example, gets about 50 percent of its electricity from wind and solar in a move that officials say will supply the base with reliable electricity while saving the DOD millions of dollars.

DOD: Arbitrary exclusion zones don’t help keep us safe

A handful of legislators have put forward proposals to restrict wind development within a certain distance of military bases.

Drawing a circle around a facility at an arbitrary distance does not guarantee protection of that base’s mission. What does guarantee protection of facility missions and viability? DOD objections based on detailed, site-specific technical analysis, as is already done today.

Here’s how this unnecessary, burdensome regulation would hurt local communities:

  • $33 - $51 billion in private capital investment in rural America would not have been made;
  • $50 - $79 million in annual land lease payments would not be flowing to farmers and ranchers;
  • An additional $3 – $9.5 billion in new capital investment in projects under construction now would be abandoned.

These arbitrary buffer zones unnecessarily:

  • put at risk tens of billions of dollars of private investment in rural America,
  • restrict the energy development activities of private companies,
  • infringe on the private property rights of American citizens
  • prohibit private citizens from leasing their land for wind turbines,
  • and do nothing to enhance national security.

The DOD has said it best:

“Generic standoff distances are not useful,” according to DOD in a 2015 report to Congress. “Due to the wide variety of missions and the variability of impacts on different types of obstructions, it is not possible to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standoff distance between DOD military readiness activities and development projects.”

For more information, our fact sheet on this issue can be found here.