The Woes Of Big Wind Power

Turbine Image: BigStock

Compared to the environmental impact of fossil fuel sources and even nuclear power, issues with harvesting wind energy may seem relatively minor, but large scale wind farms run into more than their fair share of red tape when attempting to get established.

Danger to birds and bats has been a concern in some locations. Aesthetics have also been a point of contention, with some people objecting to the sight of wind turbine towers dotting the landscape. Noise issues have also been a show stopper. 

Another objection recently thrown into the mix in relation to the biggest wind farm for the US state of Oregon is radar interference. The objecting party – the Pentagon.

Caithness Energy was all set to construct  a wind power generation facility with capacity of up to 909 MW located south of the Columbia River in north-central Oregon, on approximately 32,000 acres in Gilliam and Morrow counties.

According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon is concerned  the blades of the Shepherds Flat project’s hundreds of wind turbines will interfere with a radar system nearby as it says radar signals will reflect off turbine blades when they’re in certain positions. The Pentagon had previously shut down the issuing of permits for wind farms for several months in 2006 based on radar concerns.

Work has now halted on the 9 year, USD $2 billion venture and further significant delays in construction could kill the wind farm altogether as it could lose its  eligibility for federal stimulus funds unless it’s finished by the end of 2012.