North Carolina Lawmakers Urge Trump to Scuttle or Restrict Wind Project

Published February 17, 2017

A group of North Carolina lawmakers has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to halt the operations of the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East (Amazon East) wind-power installation in northeastern North Carolina.

The lawmakers say the facility will interfere with a nearby state-of-the-art radar facility operated by the Pentagon. If the wind farm is not shut down, they request DHS limit its operations by requiring some of its turbines be shut down.

In an undated letter sent to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, 10 North Carolina state legislators and retired U.S. Marine Corps General Robert C. Dickerson say they were “distraught” the 104-turbine project in Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties was approved. It could “seriously degrade” the operations of the Defense Department’s highly sophisticated “relocatable-over-the-horizon radar” (ROTHR) system in nearby Hampton Roads, Virginia, the letter said.

The letter was signed by several high-level state lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Jacksonville), Senate Deputy President Pro Tempore Louis Pate (R-Mount Olive), and Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain).

The letter noted Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, had in 2014 delivered testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee expressing “grave concern” the wind farm would interfere with ROTHR and create a threat to homeland security.

Amazon East, developed by Avangrid Renewables, a U.S. subsidiary of Spain’s Iberdrola SA, became fully operational on February 9. The project generates electricity exclusively for use by internet giant

MIT Study Cited

To buttress their argument the wind facility would undermine national security, the lawmakers and Dickerson cite a 2012 MIT study, titled “Comprehensive Modeling Analysis for Stand-Off Requirements of Wind Turbines from Relocatable Over the Horizon Radar (ROTHR).”

“As you are likely aware,” the letter states, “MIT’s 2012 government-funded study concluded that any wind project within 28 miles of a ROTHR receiver, would almost certainly degrade ROTHR’s operational performance.”

The letter added, “Disturbingly, ALL of these turbines are within the 28-mile radius—with some only 14 miles from the ROTHR receiver! (Note also that these are larger turbines than were used in the MIT study—so if anything their separation should be more.)”

Chris Warren, vice president for communications at the Institute for Energy Research, says the national security concerns raised in the letter are just another of the many problems wind power creates.

“This adds to the litany of concerns with wind power,” said Warren. “Not only is wind power expensive, intermittent, and dependent on massive subsidies, but it appears, in some instances, it can undermine homeland security.”

‘All of the Above’ Policy

The letter writers express the hope Kelly and the Trump administration will reverse the decision by former President Barack Obama to allow the wind farm to operate.

“This totally unacceptable situation came about due to the [Obama] administration’s promotion of unscientific and nonsensical ‘All of the Above’ energy sources (and renewable energy in particular) at essentially any cost,” the letter states.

The letter says Obama officials allowed the windfarm to be built despite MIT’s findings because the administration claimed a second study concluded the electromagnetic interference with ROTHR would not be substantial and mitigation measures could allow the ROTHR facility to operate without “consequential” degradation of the information gathered by the system.

The letter says the Obama administration turned down requests for a copy of the second study so they could review its methodology and underlying assumptions. Obama staff said the findings were “confidential,” the letter states.

Ball in Kelly’s Court

Craig Rucker, executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, says Kelly and President Donald Trump are not bound by the Obama administration’s decisions on Amazon East.

“In testimony before Congress in 2014, then-General Kelly expressed grave doubts about the U.S. Navy’s assurances the threat to its ROTHR facility in Hampton Roads had been mitigated by the wind project’s developer,” Rucker said. “Now that he’s no longer answering to the Obama administration, Kelly is free to put a quick end to this threat to national security.”

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.