Bill would require Kansas wind farms to reduce blinking lights on turbines
SUMNER COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) - Driving at night along Interstate 35 in Sumner County or similar stretches of rural roads across Kansas, you’ll see numerous blinking red lights meant to keep low-flying aircraft from crashing into wind turbines.
Kansas senators are considering two bills to reduce the time the turbine lights spend flashing. The proposed laws would require existing and new wind turbines to have light mitigating technology systems installed. This means the blinking red lights would only turn on if an aircraft is detected in the area. If not, all would be dark.
Kansas Senator Virgil Peck (R) Havana, said the technology would alert pilots as soon as they fly into the area of a wind farm.
“The system would be set up so that if they didn’t detect aircraft in the immediate area for two minutes, then the lights would shut off and they would stay off until such time as aircraft came into the radar again,” Peck explained.
Peck said one reason for the bill is to try and benefit those who live near the turbine and see the blinking lights every night.
“We hear from residents where there are wind farms that have already been installed and it’s a big issue to them. It’s a nuisance to them. It disturbs the rest of human beings and animals and livestock to have that constant blinking red light,” he said.
The question the follows is, “would the proposed change be safe for aircraft?”
Tim Bonnell, a pilot for more than 50 years, said he’d be leary of a radar system that would turn on the blinking lights.
“Well, I think in times of lower visibility and night, it’s going to help enhance air navigation,” he said. “There’s not not supposed to be any structure or building antenna or even a wind turbine that interferes with air navigation. I think the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a lot of jurisdiction over that.”
It may be a couple weeks before senators vote on the two bills, which some believe will be combined into one piece of legislation. The FAA would have to approve the light mitigation technology before anything can pass.
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