Kulm, N.D. – Some of the biggest names in the state were on hand in Kulm Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Xcel Energy’s Foxtail Wind Project, more specifically the new aircraft detection lighting system the turbines will be equipped with.
“When a plane is detected and the FAA’s requirement is three nautical miles of a turbine, you enable the lights for FAA safety, and then when the plane leaves that boundary, you turn the lights back off, so it balances safety with also the community’s needs for dark skies,” said Jeff Schleicher with Terma N.A.
North Dakota is the first state in the country to make wind farms have whats called light-mitigating technology, in fact, rules passed last year require all wind farms approved after June 5th of 2016 to install the technology by the end of the year, those farms approved before that date have until the end of 2021 to get the technology installed.
Julie Fedorchak is the states Public Service Commissioner she helped push the new rules and says this is a breath of fresh air to those who hated the constant red blinking lights at night and said they ruined the night sky.
“Really what it means is those lights will come one only when they’re really needed, which is to alert an aircraft in the area that there’s a wind farm here. Otherwise, the night sky will be dark,” said Fedorchak.
Local school children were also on hand Wednesday to plant pollinator-friendly plants as part of Xcel’s initiative to provide habitat for bees, butterflies and other wildlife.