Conference Highlights Air Force Collaboration with Wind Turbine Developers to Balance Renewable Energy and Military Training Routes

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Daniel Lindstrom
  • 80th Flying Training Wing

A conference held at Sheppard Air Force Base's 80th Flying Training Wing last Friday shed light on the collaborative efforts between wind turbine developers and the U.S. Air Force's flying training organizations. The conference focused on explaining the DoD's process for working with wind turbine developers to strike the right balance between the promotion of renewable energy and the preservation of military training routes, which are crucial for low-altitude flying training. Attendees ranged from congressional staff delegations to leaders from the community of Wichita Falls, ENJJPT Leadership, personnel from the Secretary of the Air Force’s energy and environmental office (SAF/IE), and representatives from the wind turbine industry.

Engaging in insightful discussions during the conference, attendees explored the potential effects of wind turbine encroachment into military training airspace. These discussions underscored the necessity of open lines of communication between developers and the DoD. Recognizing the importance of maintaining unimpeded military training routes, participants emphasized the need for proactive engagement and collaboration to address any concerns or conflicts that may arise. The exchange of ideas emphasized the shared goal of finding effective solutions that promote renewable energy while preserving the integrity of crucial low-altitude flying training conducted by the military.

Col. Brad E. Orgeron, 80th Flying Training Wing commander, spoke to attendees about the necessity of low-level training for pilot students at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program, stating, “Low-level training is a fundamental pilot competency that trains student pilots how to navigate their aircraft in formations close to the ground and prepares them for future tactical missions where flying low is necessary to evade enemy radar detection or provide close air support to our troops on the ground.  Graduates of our program will fly in the combat air forces of 14 NATO nations, and their ability to operate their aircraft skillfully at low altitude is critical.”  He continued, “The margin for error shrinks rapidly in a low altitude environment.  Our pilots need to build a strong foundation in low-level flying here, so that when they move on to their respective combat aircraft their navigational skills will be second nature.”

Orgeron also emphasized the compatibility of renewable energy pursuits and military readiness and the need for greater communication, stating, “My intent in hosting this conference was to connect the various stakeholders whose equities impact the military training routes in the greater Texoma region.  Due to COVID and personnel moves we needed to reinvigorate effective communications among the many organizations involved and dependent on this training airspace.  By working together, we can find innovative solutions that allow us to harness the power of wind energy while maintaining the effectiveness of our military training routes.”

One notable aspect highlighted at the conference was the informal notification process offered by the DoD Siting Clearinghouse's website ( Serving as a vital communication channel, this platform allows wind developers to inform the military about proposed projects near training routes. By utilizing the Siting Clearinghouse, developers can initiate early coordination and engage in dialogue with military stakeholders to identify and address potential conflicts or concerns.

The conference concluded on a positive note, recognizing the importance of ongoing dialogue and cooperation between the DoD and wind turbine developers. Through continued collaboration and the utilization of platforms like the Siting Clearinghouse, all parties are optimistic about achieving the shared goal of promoting renewable energy while preserving vital military training routes, benefitting both the environment and national security.