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Wind farms asking for waiver of lighting rules

Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann (l), chair Julie Fedorchak, and Brian Kroshus

Eight wind farms in North Dakota are asking for waivers or extensions concerning the deadline for converting the lighting systems on their turbine towers from the current blinking red lights to different systems.

The new systems include “ADLS” – for aircraft detection lighting system – which has the approval from the Federal Aviation Administration – and “LIDS” – for “light intensity dimming system,” which has not yet been approved.

The deadline for the wind farms to make the conversion is the end of December. But the 2021 Legislature allowed the operators to seek waivers or extensions.

The Public Service Commission has the authority to grant waivers and delays. And it has scheduled hearings on those requests.

"We'll hear from them, and listen to the justification for the extension, and why they didn't get started sooner on adapting to the new technology, when they knew the deadline, and had a number of years to comply," said PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak. "We'll make our decision from there."

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said it’s extremely late in the game for the wind farm operators.

"The public was promised that the skies would be dark," Kroshus said. "That was how light mitigating technology was sold. And it was what people expected. Now it's not going to be occurring in some areas."

Kroshus saids he thinks some of the companies were waiting for FAA approval of the “LIDS” system.

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