Written By: Jon Hawley
Sunday, January 15, 2017
The U.S. Navy did not contact state lawmakers about shutting down Amazon Wind Farm US East, nor does it have evidence the farm can’t co-exist with its nearby radar facility, a Naval spokeswoman reported Friday.
Ten North Carolina state lawmakers and a retired Marine major general made waves this week when they issued a letter calling for President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to shut down the Amazon wind farm. The 104-turbine project in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties is almost operational, but the letter’s signatories argued the turbines were built too close to the “relocatable over the horizon radar,” or ROTHR, receiver at the Northwest Annex in Chesapeake.
In an email Friday, Naval Public Affairs Officer Katisha Draughn-Fraguada explained the ROTHR system “provides critical surveillance capability to support the United States Southern Command Counter Narco-Terrorism mission.”
She also explained that the Navy works to arrive at “mutually-compatible scenarios” between ROTHR operations and wind farms – which can generate electromagnetic interference. She wrote that the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse works with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to model the impacts of potential wind projects.
The lawmakers’ letter cited a 2012 study from the MIT lab that found wind turbines within 28 miles of a ROTHR receiver can degrade its performance. It rejects a subsequent study that found the project could proceed, arguing its information is confidential and that “does not engender confidence.”
Draughn-Fraguada indicated the Navy stands by its approach to the project.
“The MIT Lincoln Laboratory modeling of this wind farm determined the acceptable number of turbines and acceptable distance from the ROTHR receive site,” she wrote, also noting its modeling was based on the “specific turbine model proposed by the developer.”
She continued the Navy agreed in November 2014 to let the developer build 104 turbines, reduced from 150, and then “conduct post-construction testing of the Avangrid wind farm this year to validate the compatibility modeling that was performed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory.”
She also wrote, “no initial data is available” yet from the wind farm, which is expected to soon start generating electricity, nor has the Navy contacted the N.C. General Assembly about concerns with the project.