TransAlta, the company operating Antrim’s wind turbine project, affirmed their obligation to properly operating and maintaining the radar-activated aircraft warning lights on the turbines. Their announcement came as a response to concerns voiced by the state Attorney General’s office in late May.
TransAlta has “always accepted” the obligation to properly operate and maintain its turbine lighting system, a spokeswoman for the company said on Wednesday. “Documents and correspondence with the NH Site Evaluation Committee, all published on the SEC website, show Antrim Wind’s ongoing work to maintain and upgrade the lighting system.”
The statement came after the Attorney General’s office sent a letter to the SEC warning them that, although Antrim Wind appeared to be working on fixing the flashing red lights so that they shut off when they weren’t needed, the company’s testimony indicated that their contract didn’t actually require them to do so. Local residents have complained that the lights, which are supposed to turn off when there’s no aircraft nearby, haven’t seemed to turn off as often as they should since the site went online at the end of 2019. The Site Evaluation Committee is investigating those complaints, as well as complaints that the turbines make louder noises than anticipated.
“Just this week, we successfully completed, on schedule, a month-long upgrade to optimize the lighting system,” the statement from TransAlta read. “The record demonstrates Antrim Wind’s continued effort since operation began in December 2019 to ensure aviation safety and diminish time the lights may be activated when the sky is clear.” The company will send the SEC and the Town of Antrim a summary of the completed work soon, according to a letter to those parties dated June 1.
“While it is the case that there have been periods when the turbine lights have remained on longer than desired, the radar-operated Aircraft Detection Lighting System has gone through an extensive fine-tuning process, especially during the past month,” the statement read. “Antrim Wind is located in a unique location, where the surface is not flat and this introduces challenges for the ADLS system to detect air traffic without any errors given the heavy presence of trees, leaf canopy and the car traffic,” the company wrote in a statement. Lights go on any time the system detects uncertainty in order to comply with FAA regulations, they said, but the light manufacturer is working to fine tune the system and reduce the instances of the system encountering uncertainties. A need for fine-tuning is typical for newly-installed advanced technology, the statement from TransAlta read.
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