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North Dakota regulators fine Xcel for wind farm lighting delay  

Credit:  Amy R. Sisk | The Bismarck Tribune | March 9, 2022 | bismarcktribune.com ~~

Xcel Energy has agreed to pay a $4,500 penalty for failing to meet the state’s deadline for operating light-mitigating technology on a wind farm north of Jamestown.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the fine Wednesday for the utility’s Courtenay Wind Farm in Stutsman County near the small town of Courtenay.

Xcel missed the deadline by nine days, amounting to a fine of $500 per day. Two wind farms operated by other companies remain out of compliance with the end-of-2021 deadline, according to PSC staff.

Xcel notified the PSC on Jan. 9 that it had finished wiring all 63 beacons that make up the radar-based system that keeps the blinking red lights atop turbines off at night unless an aircraft flies in the vicinity.

The company’s lighting vendor had installed the system in time to meet the deadline, but parts were not functioning properly, Xcel previously told the commission.

Xcel asked the PSC for an extension so it could have more time to comply with the state’s lighting law last year, but commissioners denied its request. The company said it ran into problems last summer negotiating with local landowners over the location of a radar tower.

The Legislature passed the lighting law in 2017 as a means to keep the sky dark for residents near wind farms. Newer wind farms have already installed the systems, but wind farms permitted before June 2016 faced the 2021 deadline.

Source:  Amy R. Sisk | The Bismarck Tribune | March 9, 2022 | bismarcktribune.com

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