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Xcel fined for delay in wind farm lighting system

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Xcel Energy has been fined $10,000 for missing a December 31, 2019 deadline to have a new lighting system on the turbine towers at its Foxtail Wind farm in Dickey County.

The light system is known as “ALDS,” for “Aircraft Light Detection System.” Instead of the blinking red lights, this will turn lights on and off – or dim them – based on aircraft in the area.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said Xcel notified the Commission that the wind farm went in service January 1, but because of the weather and equipment delays, it needed another two weeks or so. However, the ALDS system wasn’t installed until April.

"I think it sends the right message to the industry," said PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus. "It also helps uphold a promise made to the public, that these facilities would not be lit at night, and that the red lights would go away."

There’s a December 31, 2021 deadline for pre-existing wind farms to have the new systems installed.

"I would urge them (wind farm operators) to not wait until that deadline," said Commissioner Randy Christmann. "They should be proactive, and get this stuff going."

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