Sheppard AFB pilot training impacted by wind farms

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) -- Standing over 300 feet tall and weighing 164 tons, wind turbines can be seen all across North Texas.

But what's not seen is the radar interference they create for Air Force pilots and air traffic control.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has introduced a bill to protect military airfields from electromagnetic radar interference caused by nearby wind turbines.

Crafted with input from military leaders and pilots in Texas, the Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act would discourage the construction of new wind turbines within a 30 mile radius of a military airfield by removing their eligibility for the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit.

"This bill will both enhance public safety in communities adjacent to military bases and help our military better train to defend our homeland," said Sen. Cornyn.

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Manning, with Sheppard Air Force Base said the wind turbines can cause radar interference during training missions.

Manning said, "When the wind farm is spinning the blade tips can essentially move up to 200 miles an hour and so within certain ranges the radar can pick that up."

Each year more than 200 pilots received their wings here at Sheppard AFB and has produced more than 7000 combat pilots for the NATO Alliance.

Lieutenant Colonel Manning said, if more wind farms keep popping up essentially it disrupts there training missions.

"On a beautiful day like today we can see a lot more which you saw out there, but when the weather comes in that becomes our primary tool for deconflicting," said Manning.

Air Force bases around the country have massive impacts on the towns they are in and Sheppard Air Force Base is no different.

It has a four billion dollar impact on Wichita Falls

Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom spoke about the issue back in November.

He worried Sheppard's missions could be impacted and even moved off to another base, if the wind farm projects in Clay County were allowed to move forward.

If this bill were to pass it would not just be for the state of Texas.

The bill also states that if a wind turbine were built within a thirty mile radius, the builders would not be eligible for the Production and Investment Tax Credit.

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