Jun 29 2010

Readiness Subcommittee: Wind Farms: Compatible with Military Readiness?

Opening Statement


Readiness Subcommittee

Chairman Solomon Ortiz Opening Statement

Wind Farms: Compatible with Military Readiness?

June 29, 2010

“This hearing will come to order.  I thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing before this subcommittee today.


“Today the Readiness Subcommittee will hear about wind farm development and its impact on military readiness.  Overall, I am committed to renewable energy and the benefits it provides to the environment, the economy, and the country.


“However, these projects should not be pursued at the expense of military readiness.  Wind energy is a prime example of renewable energy, and although it is currently only 2 percent of domestic electricity supply, it is the fastest growing source of new energy generation in the country. 


“According to the Department of Energy, “The United States has enough wind resources to generate electricity for every home and business in the nation – but not all areas are appropriate for wind energy development.”


“Today, the industry is generating 14 times more wind energy across the United States than only 10 years ago.  This increase is only expected to continue.


“There are a variety of factors that contribute to the growth of wind energy, one of the most prominent being federal subsidies and stimulus money available to the industry.


“A Department of Energy grant program entitles developers of renewable energy to 30 percent reimbursement of the cost of building a facility.  Wind power projects were the largest sector, receiving 86 percent of the nearly $2.6 billion that was disbursed.  But, what stipulations are attached to that funding to protect military readiness interests?


“The rise of wind farms could not be more apparent than in my home state of Texas.  We lead the country in wind power capacity and generate one quarter of the nation’s entire production, or approximately 9,000 megawatts. 


“This is enough electricity to power more than 2.5 million homes for one year.  In my district alone, the Stimulus Bill provided more than $440 million in direct contributions to wind farms.  With the rise of wind energy, industry continues to seek attractive development locations – some of which are close to military installations. 


“A great example of this type of development is in my district at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas.


“As one can see in the slide showing on the screen, wind farms will significantly impair the ability of the Kingsville radar system to monitor and detect small aircraft like those flown at the Naval Air Station. 


“Is this a problem?  Yes. 


“Is there anything that we can do to preserve the military capabilities threatened by wind farm developments at Naval Air Station Kingsville and other military bases?  In the short term, no.  Am I concerned?  You bet I am.   


“The Department of Defense has increasingly engaged to express reservations or objections to potential energy projects based on military readiness issues, specifically identifying conflicts with radars and existing training routes.


“Each application for wind farm development is reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration in coordination with the Department of Defense.  However, I am deeply concerned about the lack of a coordinated, well-established review process within the Department of Defense to provide timely input for these green energy projects. 


“As a Committee, we address this concern in the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act and look forward to working with the Senate to refine the final language in conference.


“I don’t consider it to be in our government’s best interest to stunt the growth of this critical industry nor to expand wind farm development at the expense of military readiness.


“There are many different facets of the issue and a variety of stakeholders.  As subsidies continue and the industry expands exponentially, it is imperative to increase coordination between the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy on these efforts.


“Beyond government coordination, industry as a whole needs to take ownership of their role in diminishing the impacts of wind farms on military readiness, and increase innovation to reduce conflicts with military radars and training routes.


“To that end, I want to hear what specific actions the government and industry partners are taking to:


·         Improve the review process;

·          Identify mitigation efforts; and

·          Invest in research and development solutions.


“I want to conclude my opening statement by restating my commitment to pursue all energy solutions in partnership with the Administration, but not at the expense of military readiness.


“Ladies and gentlemen, I think that we have a lot to discuss today and I look forward to hearing you address these important issues.  The Chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Forbes, for any remarks he would like to make.


“Today, we have a panel of distinguished witnesses representing a cross-section of views including the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and industrial perspectives.  


“Our witnesses include: Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, Department of Defense; Major General Lawrence Stutzriem, Director of Plans, Policy and Strategy for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command; Ms. Nancy Kalinowski, Vice President for System Operations Services of the Air Traffic Organization in the Federal Aviation Administration; and Mr. Stu Webster, Co-Chair of the American Wind Energy Association’s Siting Committee.  Without objection, the witnesses’ prepared statements will be accepted for the record.


“Secretary Robyn, welcome, and it is good to see you again.  Please proceed with your opening remarks.”