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Thursday, January 7, 2016

WHEATFIELD -- The proposed installation of 70 industrial wind turbines by Apex in the towns of Somerset and Yates could jeopardize the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, according to a letter signed by the former commander and vice commander of the 107th Airlift Wing, and the former vice commander of the 914th Airlift Wing.

A Wednesday afternoon press conference at the air base brought the concerns to light when Somerset Supervisor Daniel Engert and Somerset's special counsel Dennis Vacco of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP shared the letter outside the air base main entrance.

W. Robin Pfiel, Col. USAF (ret.), John J. Higgins, Col. USAF (ret.) and Thomas Keough, Col. USA (ret.), say the turbines, which could stand as tall as 620 feet, will inject a major encroachment into the Military Operating Area (MOA) around the air base, resulting in a major threat to NFARS when the next Base Realignment and Closure recommendations are made, possibly as soon as 2017.

The letter, written at the request of Save Ontario Shores, a group opposed to the planned turbines, was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, and New York State’s Article 10 Siting Board, which will make the final decision on the Apex application to install the industrial wind turbines.

In the letter, the former Air Force Pilots wrote:
The reasons for this conclusion revolve around these aspects of flight operations at the base:

The current C-130 operations maintain a number of low level training routes (generally 500 feet above ground level (AGL), but as low as 300 feet AGL, on some routes. These routes depart NFARS on a common departure path, in a northeasterly direction. In the area of the lake shore, east of Wilson NY, the individual routes commence with a turn in various directions, as per the routes design.  Additionally, there is an established high speed route, established primarily for fighter aircraft, that is in the same general area; and it is also cleared down to 300 feet AGL.

As the Air National Guard in its MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission, it is intended to station MQ-9 aircraft at NFARS. Their mission would have the RPA depart NFARS, proceed to Lake Ontario, and fly up to the Fort Drum ranges, utilizing the existing MOA and restricted area over Lake Ontario. After the mission it would return to back to NFARS and would transit the area of concern in its recovery to NFARS.

The intended development area is in the flyway of migratory birds. We are concerned that a westerly shift in the flyway, as a result of the wind turbines, could heavily impact flight safety at NFARS.

The future of the NFARS, its current and potential military usefulness, could very well rest on the decision made by your administration on this proposed project. If the base were to lose its competitive advantage in the area of encroachment, its position with the next BRAC would be seriously compromised. A decision to permit the APEX project will create estimated 5-10 full time jobs. If the next BRAC were to recommend and succeed in closing the NFARS the cost will be nearly 3200 jobs!

The letter has also been distributed to local, state and federal elected officials, the Niagara Military Affairs Council and to the New York State Public Service Commission.

For more on Save Ontario Shores, visit

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