Navy: Wind farm opposed by GOP lawmakers won't harm radar

January 20, 2017 by Michael Biesecker

The Pentagon says it disagrees with Republicans in North Carolina who claim a $400 million clean energy project slated to power data centers for Inc. poses a threat to national security.

State legislative leaders have asked the incoming Trump administration to either kill or require major changes to the nearly completed wind farm, which they said will interfere with the operation of a military radar installation that scans for aircraft and ships hundreds of miles out over the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean.

Rep. Walter Jones, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also wrote to Trump's choice to lead the Homeland Security Department last month to raise concerns about the project. The sprawling 20,000-acre facility in the congressman's district includes 104 spinning wind turbines, each nearly as tall as a 50-story building.

The Navy told The Associated Press this week it had extensively studied the potential for interference with its Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar, or ROHTR, system just across the state line in Chesapeake, Virginia.

"The Navy is committed to working with developers to ensure that renewable energy projects are compatible with our mission and operations," said Lt. Chika Onyekanne, a Navy spokesman. "While initial studies indicated a potential conflict between the Amazon and the ROTHR, additional data collected since that time determined that the project is not likely to affect the mission."

President-elect Donald Trump has long expressed opposition to wind turbines, tweeting about them more than 60 times over the years. Trump has battled the construction of an offshore wind project he says mars the view from his golf resort in Scotland. At a campaign rally in August, he criticized both solar panels and wind turbines, which he said pose a lethal threat to wildlife.

"The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that," said Trump, who has pledged to bring back tens of thousands of coal mining jobs lost as utilities switch to cleaner ways to produce electricity.

Trump also has a beef with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. Trump has been highly critical of the Post's coverage of his campaign, which included revealing a 2005 videotape in which Trump made disparaging remarks about women.

Representatives of the Trump transition team did not immediately respond Thursday to an email seeking comment.

The project is being constructed by Avangrid Renewables, a U.S. subsidiary of Spanish clean-energy giant Iberdrola S.A. Amazon has contracted to buy the full electrical output from the turbines, comparable to the power about 60,000 homes use in a year, to run its Virginia data centers.

Avangrid spokesman Paul Copleman said Thursday the project is expected to come online by the end of the month.

A 2014 agreement between Avangrid and the Navy said there is potential for conflict between the wind farm and operation of the radar array, but that the Pentagon also seeks to enhance the country's renewable energy resources. The agreement specified placement of the and includes language that that the company would curtail operations "for a national security or defense purpose."

In their letter to Trump DHS nominee John Kelly, North Carolina lawmakers claimed last month that the Pentagon dropped opposition to the wind farm because of the "political correctness" of outgoing President Barack Obama's administration. Kelly, a retired Marine general, raised concerns about the placement of the wind farm in 2014, while serving as the head of U.S. Southern Command.

"In our opinion, due to the consequences at stake, this wind project should never have been permitted to be built," says the letter signed by House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate Leader Phil Berger and eight others.

In asking that the wind project be permanently scraped, the Republicans also noted that the company that would be most harmed is foreign owned.

"No tears need to be shed for Iberdrola, which is the antithesis of the Make America Great again program," they wrote.

Asked for response Thursday to the Navy's statement, state Sen. Bill Cook said the group stood by their opposition to the project.

"The fact is that no one, anywhere has had to deal with this type of interference on a ROTHR," said Cook, whose district includes the wind farm. "It's good that the Navy is optimistic, but it is speculative."

According to his campaign webpage, Cook is a retired executive of Potomac Electric Power Co., a Washington-based utility heavily reliant on coal and natural gas.

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1.9 / 5 (8) Jan 20, 2017
Political prejudice is costing us, like it cost the Russians and Germans when they had their dictators and were run by Know-it-alls.

The Republicans are willing to trade the climate of our children and grandchildren for money and power today. It is the worst kind of character.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 20, 2017
"..pose a lethal threat to wildlife."
Intermittent energy is not solution for climate change; it is part of the problem.
It has just served to make the fossil fuel industry ever stronger. It is useless because for each gigawatt of intermittent energy installed it is needed around a gigawatt of fossil fuels installed as backup to keep energy production when sun is not shinning or wind is not blowing or during prolonged droughts because cost-effective batteries/energy storage does not exist. Intermittent renewable is a waste of taxpayers' money; it ruins natural landscapes and wildlife's habitats and butchers millions of birds and bats.

1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 20, 2017
No, Willie, those Gigawatts of fossil power are already there, and we are taking them offline with better technology. You have it backwards.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 20, 2017
Gigawatts of fossil power ... we are taking them offline
where? in fairyland?
better technology
is intermittent technology better technology, in the land of make-believe?
Meanwhile, in the real world:
"Less sunshine and wind meant less more power from solar/wind — a dramatic illustration of the limits of weather-dependent energy sources."
"German emissions increased in 2016 for a second year in a row as a result of the country closing one of its nuclear plants and replacing it with coal and natural gas"
Jan 20, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 21, 2017
Intermittent renewables are not curbing CO2 emissions anywhere.
"California Nuclear Closures Resulted in 250% Higher Emissions from Electricity"
"Reservoirs are a major source of global greenhouse gases"
Wind/solar: strong dependence on fossil fuels, cost-effective batteries/energy storage does not exist;
hydro: dams emit huge quantities of methane;
nuclear power: fast decarbonization already confirmed in France and Sweden.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2017
Batteries is the answer.
Here's an easy one - solar heated water or even molten salts and sterling engines...
5 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2017
You are you going to believe on national security, silly military people with experience or trustworthy legislators with 'business connections'? Those army types are so lefty and socialist! /s

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