DOD: Wind Farms' Impact On ATC Radar Minimal

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In a long-awaited study that was released last week, the Department of Defense said its tests have shown that large wind farms degrade the effectiveness of military radar if they are located within the line of sight of the installation. However, Air Traffic Control radar systems used by the FAA are much less prone to such interference. According the report, "ATC radars can rely on both primary radar returns and [transponder] returns to ensure safe airspace operations. ... The presence of a wind farm does not appear to significantly affect the performance of [those] systems." However, the report notes that decisions about wind-farm impacts on ATC radar are up to the FAA.

And the FAA seems to be OK with wind farms. The agency recently approved 614 applications for turbines across Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois, the American Wind Energy Association said last week. The wind association also said it was "disappointed" in the DOD report. "The report remains incomplete, and only cursorily mentions existing and emerging ways to mitigate wind turbine radar interactions," said executive director Randall Swisher.