A document from the Niagara County Legislature dated Aug. 1 states that Apex Clean Energy’s plans to erect up to 70 new wind turbines, “could interfere with flight and radar operations and constitute an encroachment to base operations.”
The document expresses concern that the turbines — some that might reach 600 feet in height — would directly impact the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The document, titled “Resolution Regarding Article 10 Process and Comprehensive Review of the Apex Clean Energy Project,” conveys this concern for the base and says it could be targeted for BRAC (base realignment and closure) if Apex’s plans move forward.
County Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, praised colleague, Legislator David Godfrey, R-Wilson, for his intimate knowledge on the effects of turbines on air bases as it relates to potential interference.
“As this legislative body has done in the past, we unanimously support the town of Somerset's position that these things just aren't wanted,” Syracuse said. “From what we see from the science coming down is that they certainly have an affect on the radar installation. We see the potential of having these things in our backyard having an affect on any base realignment and closure commission.”
The resolution passed unanimously at this week's meeting. There were no comments from other legislators.
Brooke Beaver, public affairs associate for Apex Clean Energy, said that federal law requires all wind energy projects go through a formal review process through the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse.
“Throughout the review process, military experts, including local base commanders, are involved with siting and any mitigation measures,” she said. “The Assistant Secretary of the Branch Realignment and Closure Unit also serves on the DoD Siting Clearinghouse, so an approved wind project could not negatively impact a base during a BRAC review. Lighthouse Wind will go through the formal review process once we file an application. If the DoD does not approve the project, it will not be built.”
Last year, they completed an informal review of the Lighthouse Wind project through the DoD Siting Clearinghouse, with a resulting letter stating the project is “unlikely to impact military testing or training,” she said.
Lighthouse shared this information with officials at NFARS and to local elected officials and other stakeholder groups. In October of last year, Col. Joseph D. Janik, operations group commander for the 914th Airlift Wing, was asked if the wind project would be a nonissue with the new planes they are using
“At this time with the new mission, yes,” he said.
Beaver said Apex Clean Energy works with the military to mitigate any impacts throughout the formal review process.
“We have also worked with the military to deliver a hybrid wind and solar project that will ensure energy security for the military base, Fort Hood, while saving $168 million taxpayer dollars over the life of the project,” she said.
Save Ontario Shores, a wind energy opposition group, said it supports a formal review.
"Given the recent statements from numerous military bases and the Department of the Navy about the encroachment threat of industrial wind turbines, we support the resolution and urge Governor Cuomo to call on the Department of Defense to conduct a formal review," the group said in a statement.