OKLAHOMA CITY — An official of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission says the increase of wind farms in the state is hurting military flight training.
Last session, lawmakers put a bill on hold that would have required wind farms to acquire a permit from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission before construction could begin. Since then, studies of the issue have been requested by some state lawmakers.
Currently, there isn't enough clearance for the Vance Air Force Base in Enid and Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission director Victor Bird told the Tulsa World.
"We wouldn't be asking for this if there wasn't a problem," Bird said. "And there is a problem."
He said some of the wind farms that are located near the bases are below military training routes that pilots use for training purposes. Bird said the wind turbines are 495 feet above ground, while the routes begin at 500 feet above ground.
Mike Cooper is the chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, which works to protect and enhance military bases in the state. He said the men and women that are training don't know how to fly yet.
"They are learning how to fly," Cooper said.
Cooper said there will eventually be base closures, consolidations, realignments or downsizing due to the defense budget declining.
He said Oklahoma needs to protect military training routes, approaches to runways, drop zones and bombing ranges.
"Those four things right there are why Oklahoma is No. 1 in military value," Cooper said. "That is why we are here. That is why we are the best of the best."
Jeff Clark, president of the Wind Coalition, said wind developers work with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine locations for the wind farms.