A mighty wind

Concerns about military radar signals have long kept Nevada from moving forward on wind farm projects. On Oct. 3, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he had asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to push the military to decide whether they’ll support wind-farm sites in the state. The main fear is that wind farms could interfere with radar used to track aircraft. Eighty-six percent of Nevada’s land is federally controlled, and the military has restricted airspace over much of it.

Reid has made no secret of his distaste for new coal powered plants or of his view that Nevada could become a renewable energy powerhouse. He says new technology used in other places could be used here to avoid the problem of radar interference. He added that he wasn’t suggesting placing wind farms in the middle of military test sites or air stations, and that some proposed wind farms would be many miles away from military bases.

An 85-megawatt wind farm project years in the works at the Nevada Test Site was abruptly cancelled in 2002 due to military concerns about the rotating wind turbine blades interfering with radar at the nearby Nevada Test and Training Range.