Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Airport Commission Takes Look At Wind Farm Project

Airport Commission Takes Look At Wind Farm Project
By Danny Bernardini
Article Launched: 03/11/2008

For the first time in more than a year, a group other than the Solano County Planning Commission will be discussing a proposal to install up to 88 wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills.

The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission will hear the issue Thursday night, a year after voting against the issue the first time around for fear of the turbines affecting the radar system at Travis Air Force Base.

The difference this time is that officials at Travis are no longer objecting to the proposal, as stated in a letter written by Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette earlier this month. A previous letter written by Arquiette - asking the planning commission to delay the project until a new radar system was installed at the base in October - had postponed decisions at several meetings for months.

The latest Arquiette letter, indicating the base will no longer object to the project, came after the Air Force Flight Standards Agency concluded that the radar and turbines could co-exist.

There are currently more than 700 wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills. Travis officials have said the newest batch potentially would cause a problem since the blades of the turbines may make it seem like smaller planes drop off the radar screens while images of others appear when they aren't actually there. The latest endeavor, titled Shiloh II Wind Project, proposes to build up to 88 turbines.

The company proposing the project, enXco, has offered Travis a gift of up to $1 million that the base may use anyway it wishes. Greg Blue, regional manager of external affairs, said that offer has yet to be claimed. "We have an unsolicited offer," he said. "The offer is still on the table. Whether they choose to accept it or not is their choice."

Blue said there is a specific process Travis must go through to accept a gift to the Air Force. He said that process could take up to four months. He added that there has been no established timeline or expiration date for the gift and that his firm is waiting for a response.

The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission meets Thursday at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Solano County Government Center in downtown Fairfield.

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