Blowing Concerns: The possibility of wind farms sparks controversy

Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 11:12 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2016 at 11:18 PM CDT
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For many people when they think of Wichita Falls, they think of Sheppard Air Force Base. 
Sheppard air force has about 200 graduate from the pilot program every year.
but that could soon be at risk.

Two additional wind farms could be placed within 25 miles of Sheppard, and that has the potential of interfering with flight training.

"The structure is as tall as 500 feet, said Commander Beaumont of Sheppard Air Force Base. "Sometimes you get weather in Wichita Falls you get the clouds ceiling as it comes down, and we have these training pilots that with the higher structure we would have to somehow either cancel or otherwise manipulate training for that day."

Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President, Henry Florsheim says there are other concerns for the future of The Falls in the outcome of the farms.

"What happens to the community as a whole if an asset like Sheppard Air Force Base is forced to downsize or lose missions or goes away because we didn't have the foresight to protect the zone around the area," said Florsheim.

Beaumont said another problem is the wind farms create a hazard for those flying.

"If you have a wind farm in that spot, that is basically disrupting radar," Beaumont said. "It is then basically impossible for our air traffic controllers to see."

There are some positives to the wind farms.

"We are certainly not opposed to wind energy at all," said Florsheim.  "It's brought economic increase to some of the areas that needed it. there just has to be a balance."

If the farms are installed that means there would be an alternative plan to train the pilots.

"We would adjust the best we can," said Beaumont.   "It's just a disruption that when we are trying to maximize  pilot production and output that we would have to contend with that would make it less desirable."

The ones in favor of the wind farms were invited to the meeting, however they did not attend.