SUMNER COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) – Driving along Interstate 35 in Sumner County or similar stretches of rural roads through Kansas at night, you will see numerous flashing red lights intended to prevent low-flying planes from crashing into wind turbines.
Kansas senators are considering two bills to reduce the time turbine lights spend blinking. The proposed laws would require existing and new wind turbines to have light mitigation technology systems installed. This means that the flashing red lights will only turn on if an aircraft is detected in the area. Otherwise, everything would be dark.
Kansas Sen. Virgil Peck (R) Havana, said the technology will 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, the lights would go out and stay off until the aircraft came back under radar,” Peck explained.
Peck said one reason for the bill is to try to benefit those who live near the turbine and see the flashing lights every night.
“We hear from residents where there are wind farms that have already been installed and it’s a big deal for them. It’s a nuisance for them. It disturbs the rest of humans, animals and livestock to have that constant flashing red light,” she said.
The following question is, “would the proposed modification be safe for aircraft?”
Tim Bonnell, a pilot of more than 50 years, said he would be aware of a radar system that would turn on flashing lights.
“Well, I think in times of poor visibility and at night, it will help improve air navigation,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any structure or building with an 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 could be a couple of weeks before senators vote on the two bills, which some believe will be combined into a single piece of legislation. The FAA would have to approve the light-mitigating technology before anything can go through.