Air Force and FAA Block Oregon Wind Farm. Another Blow for Smart Grid Renewables?


By: SGN Staff

What with all of the regulatory hoops wind farms have to go through to get up and running, you'd think Smart Grid renewables developers have it bad enough. You'd be wrong. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Air Force are blocking construction of the country's largest wind farm citing concerns that the 338 turbines to be installed at Shepherds Flat in north central Oregon will interfere with operations of a radar station about 50 miles away. The Department of Defense (DOD) has asked MIT for an analysis, which will take 60 days, well past the May 1 groundbreaking planned for the wind farm. A partner with wind farm developer Caithness Energy said the study should have gotten under way three years ago, when the company first discussed the project with the Air Force. The company has investors and a signed contract with GE for the turbines. A defense official conceded that the FAA and military process for reviewing wind farms is "not satisfactory," according to The Oregonian newspaper.


Quick Take: And that's putting it mildly. If nine federal agencies can agree to streamline the transmission line permitting process, one would think the military and the FAA could do the same with wind farm reviews. Implementing Smart Grid renewables already has enough roadblocks without throwing more time-consuming â€" and ultimately expensive â€" barriers in the way. We don't know the merits of the FAA and Air Force case regarding interference with radar operations, but the timing couldn't be much worse.


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