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WIND FARMS AND THE WSR-88D

The NEXRAD Radar (officially designated Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D)), is the key tool National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters use to track weather and make life and property protecting weather warning decisions. NEXRAD data also support operations of the FAA National Airspace System, Department of Defense, other government agencies, private industry, and the public. The NEXRAD uses an 8.8 m diameter parabolic antenna that produces a 0.95 degree beam width and is programmed to automatically scan the atmosphere (called Volume Coverage Patterns) by rotating 360 degrees through up to 14 elevation angles from 0.5 to 19.5 degrees. The NEXRAD transmits at a wavelength of about 10 cm (3 GHz) and at a peak power of about 750 kW. The radar has a 460 km range for Reflectivity detection and up to a 300 km range for Doppler velocity and spectrum width detection.

For wind farm developers, early consultation with the NEXRAD Program, via the Radar Operations Center (ROC) is the key to minimizing operational conflicts with NEXRAD network and weather warning program. Research tools and evaluation processes are in place to facilitate early consultation (NOAA NEXRAD Screening Tool) . The NTIA acts as a one-stop clearinghouse for developers to reach many interested federal agencies, including the ROC, so please submit your proposal directly to the NTIA. They will forward your proposal to us and we will perform a case-by-case analysis at no cost to determine the potential for impacts to the nearby NEXRAD. If it appears that there could be significant impacts, we would like to work with you on mitigation options to reduce the impacts. While the NEXRAD Program has learned about many proposed wind farms via the NTIA, this represents a subset of the wind farms being planned. It also appears the timing of these notifications is after the wind energy developers have already invested considerable time and money in planning wind farm projects. Advance information on new planned projects, or expansions, would enable impact analysis and siting consultation earlier in the project lifecycle, potentially avoiding costly project changes. A preliminary analysis can be performed on wind farm area coordinates (polygons) and then reanalyzed when individual turbines locations are known.

Please note that the Federal Government cannot approve, disapprove, or recommend any action on part of the developer on private land. We can only provide impacts and suggest mitigation options for developers to consider. We urge wind farm developers to take advantage of this consultation early in the planning process to arrive at mutually beneficial siting decisions.

Finally, we are sensitive to the proprietary and competitive nature of development plans and all information is treated as "For Official Use Only, Pre-Decisional, and Not Releasable to the Public".

You can contact us at the Radar Operations Center:  Wind.Energy.Matters@noaa.gov


To Submit Projects for Evaluation to the Department of Commerce's National Information Telecommunications Administration (NTIA) Contact:

Mrs. Joyce Countee Henry
U.S Department of Commerce/NTIA
Room 4099A, HCHB
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230
Work Phone: (202) 482-2215
Email: jhenry@ntia.doc.gov