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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A west Mandan wind farm is set implement an alternative to blinking red lights, though the company says it still needs federal approval before installing the technology.

North Dakota lawmakers last year directed the Public Service Commission to adopt rules that require light-mitigating technology for wind turbines, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The rules require all state wind projects approved after June 5, 2016, to be equipped with a light-mitigating technology system by Dec. 31, 2019.

The Oliver III wind farm in Morton and Oliver counties is expected to be among the first in North Dakota to adopt the technology. The owner of the project, NextEra Energy Resources, it’s waiting for the FAA’s guidance before installing the technology, said Bryan Garner, communications manager for NextEra.

“We’re anxious to put this into practice, but really waiting on the FAA because they have not yet approved the technology,” said Garner.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said state regulators began requiring alternative lighting for wind projects in June 2016 to address complaints from the public that the blinking lights ruin the night sky.

Options include a sensor-based system that activates lights on wind turbines only as aircraft approach and a dimming technology that’s still being studied by the industry, which reduces the intensity of the lights when conditions are clear.

Fedorchak said state rules don’t specify which technology companies need to use, allowing some flexibility as the technology continues to develop.

“Like all new technology, it’s probably not going to be perfect the first time around. There’s probably going to have to be tweaks to improve this once it’s out and operational,” Fedorchak said. “We’re on the cutting edge of this industry nationwide.”


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,