Top Texoma Stories for 2016: Wind Farms and Sheppard Air Force Base

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The issue of Windmills blew into 2016 with quite a bit of force. Some in the area see the potential for a positive economic impact and others see these 300 foot tall energy producers as a threat to the training mission at Sheppard air Force Base.

“If these wind farms were erected as proposed, we’d have two big dead spots on that radar — where an air traffic controller would lose sight of them. Black holes. And since they’d be coming at that level, that’s exactly the place where you don’t want it to happen because that’s a high traffic area,” Col. Burke Beaumont, SAFB.

During several public meetings, supporters and those against the wind farms heard from representatives of both sides. Jeff Clark with the  Wind Coalition reassured everyone…that if the wind farms proposed for Clay County near Petrolia and Blue Grove, were a threat to Sheppard’s mission…they would not be built.

“If in fact a wind project is incompatible or creates hazards or creates a lack of mission capability for the base — that they wouldn’t proceed with the project,” Jeff Clark, Wind Coalition Executive Director.

The new regional airport could also be impacted by wind farm construction taking place too close for comfort.

“We have an issue and we’re adamantly opposed to wind farms within 25 miles — not only of Wichita Falls, but Corpus Christi — any airport in the United States,” John Burrus, director of aviation, traffic and transportation, said. “We shouldn’t be doing anything to lessen our air traffic control’s ability to manage traffic coming in and out of any airport,” John Burrus, Director of Aviation, Traffic and Transportation.

Wind Farms are already located in…but they’re outside the 25 mile zone and don’t impact flight training at Sheppard. Training that is part of the $750 million dollar yearly economic impact the base has throughout Texoma.

“The question becomes — does it impair the entire mission of Sheppard Air Force Base for this community? And will the military then look at moving that base somewhere else where you have 365 days of training — as opposed to a limited training days here in Wichita Falls?” John Greer with Clay County Against Wind Farms said.

Well over 100 windmills have been constructed in North Texas but the possible threat to operations at Sheppard Air Force Base by the Clay County project has brought the issue front and center to state officials. We’ll know more when the Texas Legislature is expected to take up the issue in the their upcoming session beginning in January. Barry Levy KFDX 3 News

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