Orleans expected to press Congressional action to ban turbines within 40 miles of NF Air Base

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2016 at 9:43 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature has a resolution on the agenda Wednesday, supporting Congressman Chris Collins and his proposal to keep industrial-size wind turbines away from military airfields.

Apex Clean Energy is proposing to build about 70 wind turbines that would reach about 600 feet high in Somerset (Niagara County) and Yates (Orleans County).

Collins on Nov. 29 introduced legislation that would curb the installation of wind turbines in close proximity to military installations, such as the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls.

Collins worries the turbines would have a negative impact on the Air Reserve Station, perhaps jeopardizing the site in the future when its up for review.

“This air base employs over 2,600 people and contributes over $200 million a year to Western New York’s economy,” Collins said on Nov. 29. “Massive wind turbines built in such close proximity to military installations, such as the ones being proposed in Western New York, can negatively impact a base’s potential new missions and its future operations. I will do everything in my power to ensure the viability of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.”

Congressman Collins introduced the “Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act” in an effort to ensure that any new wind turbines located within a 40-mile radius of a military installation will be deemed ineligible for renewable energy tax credits. Full text of the legislation can be read by clicking here. A companion bill was introduced in the United States Senate by Senator John Cornyn, R-TX.

The Niagara County Legislature already has passed a resolution in support of the “Turbine Encroachment Act,” and the Orleans County Legislature has a resolution on the agenda for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The Orleans resolution says the turbines would be “a navigational hazard” that would harm the mission of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Losing the base would be an economic hit for the region and also could reduce the “military readiness of the United States,” according to the Orleans resolution.

Apex Clean Energy said the turbines would be more than 25 miles from the Air Reserve Station. Their proximity is a “non-issue,” the company said.

“Apex Clean Energy takes the safety and readiness of our military very seriously, and we work closely with the Department of Defense and its services to ensure our wind energy facilities do not adversely impact military missions,” Cat Strumlauf, Public Affairs Associate for Apex Clean Energy, said on Nov. 29 after Collins issued his news release.

Apex has been consulting with the Department of Defense and Niagara Falls Air Force Reserve Station regularly “to ensure that any concerns regarding the base’s operations are resolved before the project is built,” Strumlauf said.

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