Arizona’s solar energy plans vex military

A solar tower nearly twice the height of the Empire State building. Hundreds of spinning 200-foot-tall wind turbines. A 500-mile high-voltage power line from central New Mexico to southern Arizona.

Those are among the projects the renewable-energy industry sees in Arizona’s future.

But for the U.S. military, that vision translates into fears of unusable airspace, equipment failures and plane-crash risks.

Across the country, the burgeoning green-energy industry has faced military concerns about threats to the safety of its pilots and high-tech operations. Air Force officials, in particular, are wary. They say solar projects can obstruct flight paths and reflect sunlight into pilots’ eyes, wind farms can jam radar, and transmission lines can disrupt testing equipment.

Energy developers in states such as Oregon, Nevada and California have spent years and made costly changes to projects to satisfy military objections.

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