Feds won't approve wind farm near Erie airport, say turbines could cause radar problems

IndustriesAssociated Press

The Federal Aviation Administration has refused to approve a wind farm near Erie International Airport, saying the turbines would interfere with radar.

The FAA had previously approved the wind farm in North East Township. But when that approval expired in May, the FAA revisited the question of radar safety and earlier this month decided it would be a problem, the Erie Times-News (http://bit.ly/1rn4dYR ) reported Monday.

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"The (new) analysis done by FAA Technical Operations indicates that all of the wind turbines would be in the radar line of sight," FAA specialist Cindy Whitten said in an Oct. 9 report.

North East Wind I LLC, an affiliate of Austin, Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy, wanted to build up to 67 wind turbines, some up to 450 feet tall. FAA approval is needed for any structure more than 200 feet tall near an airport.

Pioneer vice president David Savage said the company may downsize its plans, relocate the turbines or group them differently in hopes of getting approval. But he couldn't say when the new plans might be submitted to the FAA and other regulators.

"We're still working through it," Savage said.

Members of Neighbors for a Responsible North East, who have fought plans for the wind farm, said they're happy with the FAA's decision and hoping it might eventually kill the project.

"It justifies to some degree our concerns about turbine placement," said Paul Crowe, a member of the group.

The airport's executive director, Chris Rodgers, said the radar is needed to safely track planes at or near the airport.

"It allows controllers to see now only the planes using the airport but planes transiting through this airspace, so that they can keep safe distances between them," Rodgers said.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com