Rural Morgan County residents may be seeing some flashing lights in the night sky for a little while.
The red FAA lights atop Lincoln Land Wind Project turbines have been on for more than a week. Under the ordinance governing the turbines, the lights are to be controlled by an Automated Lighting Detection System and not continually flash.
Morgan County Commission Chair Ginny Fanning gave an update on the progress of the wind farm today during the regular County Commissioners meeting and says both the flashing lights and some turbines being activated are part of the testing process.
“Right now they are in the stage of testing and that means the wind turbines but also it entails the lighting system. So the automated lighting detection system will be in place. It is just now that they are blinking because they are testing them.
So we want everyone to know that by November I believe is when they think everything will be completed and in operation. But of course, it’s very important to make sure everything is operating correctly. That’s why we are seeing these phases right now and different parts of the wind farm will be in a testing phase.”
Under the ordinance requiring the ADLS system, the lights would only be activated when the Federal Aviation Administration radar detects an aircraft in the area. Fanning says in the long run, the inconvenience now will be worth the wait.
“We are fortunate I guess that our ordinance took so long to figure out and make sure was correct in our eyes that this new system is now available and is required by the company to put into place. So when an aircraft goes over the wind farm, those lights will start blinking, otherwise, they will not have that. So we won’t have that situation that a lot of wind farms have where lights are blinking continually throughout the evening time.”
In an email declining a request for an interview, Apex Clean Energy Director of Public Engagement Jaci Friedley says the FAA radar is being fine-tuned to basically learn where the turbines and other tall features are located so it does not falsely recognize those items as an aircraft.
Friedley says that the ADLS system will be fully operational sometime around November 25th. Fanning says the original estimated time for completion of the wind project was October 1st.
She says given the pandemic and subsequent issues with supply and shipping every industry has been facing since last year, the County Commissioners are pleasantly surprised that officials estimate the system will be up and running in late November.