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Wind turbines can cause problems on military bases, officials say

AUSTIN — Giant wind turbines dotting the Texas landscape have made the Lone Star State the nation's leader in the development of wind power, but they may also pose a hazard to military installations by interfering with crucial radar operations, state lawmakers were told Tuesday.

Standing 250 feet high with 150-foot-long blades, the wind turbines could cause false signals on radar and endanger aerial maneuvers or produce erroneous information about storm conditions, several military officials told the House Committee on Defense and Veterans' Affairs.

Interviewed afterward, the officials said they are unaware of crashes or serious accidents resulting from radar interference but expressed concern that windmill encroachment around the state's military bases could become a growing problem.

Navy Capt. Tracy "T.D." Smyers, commander of Naval Air Station Fort Worth, who also testified, said the issue isn't a problem for his installation since there is minimal wind production in North Texas. But he offered suggestions on how communities can work together with military installations to resolve such conflicts, including consulting with base officials.

Smyers cited what he is said is a "great relationship" between the Naval Air Station, on the western edge of Fort Worth, and six surrounding communities, as well as Tarrant County. The communities work with the air station through a Regional Coordination Committee to discuss compatible land use and other issues, Smyers said.

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