Weekly Feature

2017-08-02 / Editorials

Installing turbines near Air Reserve Station puts region at risk

EDWARD RATH
Erie County Legislator

The Erie County Legislature held our final session before recess on July 27 and dealt with an issue that is important to our entire region.

My colleagues unanimously approved a resolution that I sponsored in support of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. We are asking New York State to request a formal review by the Department of Defense related to a proposal by APEX Clean Energy to construct 70 wind turbines along the shores of Lake Ontario that would potentially reach 600 feet high. The proposal is concerning due to its proximity to the air base, and as such, the Niagara Military Affairs Council has expressed its opposition.

The air base is an important asset to the greater WNY community, providing 3,000 jobs in addition to critical services. The base was first established more than 60 years ago and is currently home to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 914th Airlift Wing and the 328th Air Force Reserve C-130 mission, as well as the Air National Guard’s new Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission.

The issue with the proposed turbines is that they pose a threat of interference with military radar and flight operations. Furthermore, if the turbines are erected as planned, there is a very real concern that the air base itself could be at risk of closure as a result. The base has already been subjected to multiple base closure and realignment commission reviews. My concern is that if the turbines are placed in the base’s flight path, they could be seen as impediments to future operations and could tilt the scales toward closure in the next round of reviews. Encroachment is a key factor that is considered when the federal government is reviewing military bases for potential shutdown, and 70 individual, 600-foot tall wind turbines, located on the edge of

Lake Ontario near the base, could be considered major objects of encroachment.

New York State’s rules and regulations require an application to operate an electrical generation facility, and as a part of that application, detailed information regarding potential impacts on airports and military installations and operations must be provided. The state review board, prior to approval of an application, may request a formal review be conducted by the Department of Defense.

At this point, the Erie County Legislature and the Niagara County Legislature have requested that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state review board request the Department of Defense to conduct a formal review of the Apex application. My sincere hope is that the state acts to request this review quickly. We cannot put the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station at risk.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact my office at 858-8676 or email edward.rath@erie.gov.

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