Greg Gillingham, former director of the Naval Air Warfare Center's Atlantic Test Range, said turning off the turbines would indeed prevent interference with the radar. But he said stopping the turbines might tip off foreign intelligence services that testing is underway, a worry for the military programs using the base.
A spokeswoman for Hoyer, the Southern Maryland Democrat and U.S. House minority whip, said the congressman asked the Navy to hold off on the agreement.
In a statement, Hoyer said other military services using Patuxent River for classified testing "have indicated that the proposed curtailment is unacceptable." He warned they "could go elsewhere, which could put many high-paying jobs and economic activity in our state at risk."
Mikulski also issued a statement Friday urging delay.
"I have very serious reservations about the impact on Patuxent River Naval Air Station's ability to do its job," she said, urging lawmakers in Annapolis to "listen to the Navy and take their concerns into consideration."
But the O'Malley administration, which pushed through legislation setting a goal of producing a fifth of the state's energy from renewable sources by 2022, opposes the moratorium as unnecessary.
Abigail Hopper, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, noted that in 2012 — again, at the behest of Southern Maryland lawmakers — the General Assembly adopted legislation guaranteeing the Navy a hearing before the state Public Service Commission on any concerns it has about any wind projects. The commission, Hopper said, "is the appropriate forum to address these concerns."
Environmental groups that favor wind power say the moratorium would not only delay but discourage development of more such projects.
"Certainly no one wants to negatively affect Patuxent River," said Tommy Landers of Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
But the legislation, he said, "will set a horrible precedent that Maryland is no place to do business when it comes to wind power."