Airports and State Advocacy
Proposed power plant could cause turbulence at French Valley
Exhaust plumes from a proposed power plant 1,685 feet east of Runway 18/38 at French Valley Airport (F70) in Riverside County, Calif., could create turbulence in the traffic pattern and introduce a hazard to aircraft, AOPA told the county Aug. 10.
French Valley Energy Partners proposed the 49 megawatt power plant, which, according to its own analysis, would create light turbulence on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern for Runway 18. While the FAA determined that the height of the associated exhaust stack does not create a hazard to navigable airspace, the agency is not required to evaluate the effects of exhaust plumes on navigable airspace.
“It is the association’s and our members’ concern that this plant could introduce turbulence into the traffic pattern as aircraft overfly the location,” AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins wrote to the county planning department. “The applicant has indicated that this would only be light turbulence, but we feel that it is prudent to not deliberately introduce such a hazard into the traffic pattern.”
The Riverside County Planning Department issued a notice of preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on July 20 and invited comment from the public on the scope of the report. AOPA requested that the report address the issue of turbulence and exhaust plumes as they would affect aircraft in the pattern.
AOPA also provided a copy of its letter to the Riverside County Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) for an Aug. 13 meeting in which the commission will hear a report regarding the French Valley plant. The ALUC staff report in July 2008 had recommended that the commission draft a letter requesting that a forthcoming Environmental Impact Report address the issues of turbulence and wind shear; the commission ultimately issued a finding that the project was consistent with the 2007 French Valley Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan.
AOPA is also working with the FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Service to have plume effects included in obstruction evaluations.
August 11, 2009