PSC looks to add language to selection and policy criteria

New additions mention aircraft detection lighting system

The Public Service Commission is looking to add more language, related to the lighting of future wind turbines. (Herald File Photo)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor

The North Dakota Public Service Commission is proposing to add language to their policy and selection criteria when it comes to wind farm siting permits.

The proposed changes include adopting the 2017 update to the National Electric Safety Code, and “decommissioning and financial assurance requirements for commercial wind conversion facilities.” Another change is “relating to the selection and policy criteria related to the impact of light sensitive land uses and the installation of aircraft detection lighting systems under the Siting Act.”

“We’re [proposing to] adding noise and light sensitive land use,” PSC spokesperson Jerry Lien said.

When a project comes in front of the commission, they have three criteria they base their decision on. Exclusion/avoidance areas, policy, and selection. The propose language changes will be to the policy and selection criteria. (An example of selection criteria would be to determine the effect a farm would have on agriculture, among other things, and the commission needs to find that those are at an acceptable minimum.)

The proposed change would give projects installing the Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS) consideration and preference, subject to Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations.

Light pollution was one of the most highlighted topics during the hearings for Brady Wind II by NextEra Energy, and PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak said at the time that integrating the turbines with a new system is “really the right move and it’s a good move for wind development in general and it’s [a] great move for wind in North Dakota.”

The ADLS is a system of lighting the turbines without the constant blinking. Currently turbines are fitted with intermittently blinking lights throughout the night. The ADLS utilizes radar, and the lights will only be activated when an aircraft enters the space within a certain amount of distance, and the lights will turn off when the aircraft leaves the space.

NextEra Project Melissa Hochmuth said during the lengthy hearing in New England last June that the turbines were already being equipped with the necessary components for the system to work with the ALDS, when it is ready for use and approved by the FAA.

“We want to get it installed and working, as soon as we can, and that’s our intent as well, we know it,” Hochmuth said in June.

The public hearing to discuss the proposed language change is set for Monday, Feb. 27 at 8:30 a.m. in the Commission Hearing Room on the 12th floor of the State Capitol. Written comments can be submitted to the commission no later than March 9.

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