Defense Department Study Clears Hurdle to U.S. Wind Power Development

A much-anticipated and long-overdue study by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released last week concludes that large wind energy projects can move forward as long as developers take precautions against interfering with military radar installations. A lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club in June accused DoD of instituting a near-moratorium on the construction of new wind power facilities by failing to complete the study, which Congress passed last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Without the study, at least a dozen wind farm projects were stalled, encompassing more than 600 individual windmills and capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of power.

Environmentalists are optimistic that DoD’s new guidelines will allow wind power developers to restart their clean energy projects and further reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil. “The Sierra Club will hold DoD to its word that wind farms with potential impacts on radar will be reviewed to find ways to make them work—not to shut them down,” says Kristin Henry, a staff attorney at the Sierra Club. “With proper siting, wind farms and military readiness can clearly co-exist.”