Expert: Towers could cause insidious problem


CLINTON — Opponents of the planned Alta Farms wind energy project received support Tuesday from some experts, including a physicist with a meteorological background.

Donald Waddell, a 31-year resident of DeWitt County, testified before the third in a series of five Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearings.  The hearings are to determine if Tradewind Energy should receive a special use permit to begin erecting wind towers.

Waddell holds a B.S. in physics and is a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).  He testified Tuesday about the problems caused by wind farms on the use of Doppler radar.

Doppler radar is the primary tool used in tracking and predicting major weather fronts, including those that spawn tornadoes.

Waddell said he was not addressing the subject of interference caused by wind towers on weather radar.

“I’m not talking about that, (ground clutter),” Waddell said.  “It’s much more insidious than that.”

“It’s not about showing something that isn’t really there, it’s all about masking from view something that is there.”

Waddell said the subject of masking wasn’t something generally talked about and, likely, most people had never heard of it.

Waddell covered his own experience and expertise in the field and then described how Doppler radar works.

Ultimately, Waddell said the situation caused by wind farms on radar used for weather early warning systems was dangerous.

“This wind energy project would put lives at risk,” he said.

Additional ZBA hearings were scheduled through at least Thursday of this week.  The matter could go before the full county board in March.