Kansas bill could require light mitigating technology on wind turbines

LABETTE COUNTY, Kan.–Some Southeast Kansas residents say they’d like to see the state do more to limit the annoyance of wind turbine lights.

“We were traveling home from doing some industry work and came upon one on one highway to head home towards Mound Valley, Kansas. and we noticed just a bunch of red flashing lights that just went miles from about this view,” said Debbie Cramer.

Cramer is a concerned resident of Labette County, she says the lights from the wind turbines that guide aircrafts hit rural residents like herself the hardest.

“When the sun goes down, the sky becomes a big long red line of flashing lights that goes for miles,” said Cramer.

Senate Bill 478, would make Kansas wind energy systems possess light mitigating technology systems, in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

“The way it would work is that most of these work on radar technology. So when there’s an aircraft nearby it turns the lights on. otherwise, the lights stay off. so it would greatly reduce the amount of time that you’re seeing those aviation lights flashing. and so it’s really a fairly simple technology radar. it’s been around for a long time,” said Kansas Senator Mike Thompson.

Kansas isn’t the first state to look at technology like this, in North Dakota, state law requires most wind farms to have this technology.

“But now they need to step up and start helping to protect our rural Kansans because it really is impacting an awful lot of people,” said Thompson about Kansas.

Senator Thomspon said one concern for the bill comes from the Defense Department.

“About the only concern we heard is from the Department of Defense, because with the aircraft, whenever they do any kind of flights it would be sort of a way to be able to track their aircraft. And they’re a little bit concerned about how it might impact that.”

And Cramer says not all residents are affected by these lights, but the ones who are could really use the relief.

“There’s nothing that we can do to keep lights off of the turbines if there to protect the aircraft but what is important is that the Senate bill  478 that it’s a great answer to a prayer of here is a yes a great answer to alleviate the annoyance of the lighting issues that we have.”

The bill will be heard in a committee on Wednesday.