Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Company Offers Travis $1 Million To Resolve Turbine Issue

Company Offers Travis $1 Million To Resolve Turbine Issue
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | February 19, 2008

FAIRFIELD - A company that wants to build as many as 88 additional wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills has offered Travis Air Force Base $1 million to correct radar problems that are threatening the project.

Air Force officials are expected to respond in the near future, a Solano County Planning Commission report stated. Air Force officials said last year the giant, electricity-generating turbines and their spinning blades can cause problems such as planes dropping off the base radar.

Planning Commissioners on Thursday will decide whether to delay the matter until March 6, when more information is expected to be available, or they could simply deny the project.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors chamber, 675 Texas St.

Solano County for years has targeted the Montezuma Hills near Rio Vista for non-polluting energy. There are about 700 turbines covering the rolling, windswept landscape, some more than 400 feet tall from base to the top of an upturned blade.

But Travis officials in March 2007 and September 2007 submitted letters regarding the Shiloh II proposal for 88 more turbines by Escondido-based EnXco. They said the existing wind turbines have already caused problems with base radar.

The base should have a new radar system installed by late this year. Base officials have asked to delay any more turbine construction until they see how this new radar handles the existing turbines.

Erecting more turbines before that would cause 'safety concerns for both civil and military aviation,' base commander Col. Steven Arquiette wrote to the county in September 2007, the last letter the county has received from Travis on the topic.

EnXco representative Annie Mudge told the Planning Commission Dec. 6, 2007, the delay could hurt the company. It has made commitments to third parties, invested millions of dollars in the project and could lose tax credits that expire at the end of the year.

Company and Air Force representatives have continued talking since then, with the Planning Commission's blessings. EnXco radar experts concluded the new turbines wouldn't appreciably hurt the existing and planned radar systems at Travis, a county report state. Still, it offered as much as $1 million to upgrade the radar system.

The $1 million could be used for such things as getting a secondary radar feed from the Stockton Metropolitan Airport and assisting with an alternative radar location at or near Travis, the county report stated.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

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