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Military Air Bases Sounding Alarm Over Wind Farms Impact On Flight Routes

CCO Creative Commons

Plans for the largest wind farm in the U.S. to be built in the Oklahoma Panhandle were recently announced by developers, but military air bases are pushing back.

As State Impact reports, the western part of Oklahoma is an ideal place for military flight training because of its wide open skies.

But Flight Instructor Adam Bergoo of Altus Base in southwestern Oklahoma says all rookie pilots are trained to fly close to the ground because it reduces the risk of detection by enemy fighter planes. And one of Bergoo’s training routes is partially blocked by a wind farm, which he said has encroached into about a third of the route corridor.

This and similar scenarios has pilots sounding the alarm not only with local officials, but also with Oklahoma lawmakers, who are considering a bill that would require new wind farms to get approval from the state’s aeronautics commission. Lawmakers are also considering requiring the state’s military commission to sign off before new wind farms break ground.

The wind industry is opposing both efforts.

“Creating a new state bureaucracy is not the way to go,” says Jeff Clark with The Wind Coalition, which represents wind developers in Oklahoma.