Proclaiming his interim legislative study of wind farms and their impact on Air Force bases in Oklahoma is not ‘anti-wind’, Altus Rep. Charles Ortega says it’s about the economy.
“When you look at the Air Force bases, just the Air Force bases, we’re talking about a $20 billion aerial impact, economic impact,” he said in an interview with OK Energy Today. “Plus, the $7 billion annual payroll and over 72,000 jobs.”
He’s the legislator who requested the study that was approved last week by Speaker Charles McCall. Rep. Ortega doesn’t expect actual hearings to be held until perhaps September.
His concern is the proximity of wind farms to some of the air bases. And in some cases, it’s not that wind farms are within sight of those air bases, but their location in mission zones, especially those zones with low-flying training operations.
“If we don’t protect what we have out here, and the ability of the military to train, then my question remains, why would they want to expand the mission?”
He also thinks there needs to be a conversation on the location of wind farms and their distance from the air bases. Rep. Ortega says Altus Air Force Base, home to cargo plane training, often has low-flying missions. A casual driver across I-40 in western Oklahoma will see giant cargo planes lumbering slowly at low altitudes as they approach Altus from the north.
“No body’s against wind development, but at the same time, we can’t do that at the risk of losing what truly has an economic impact on our military bases,” said the legislator.
Listen to his comments in an interview by Jerry Bohnen.