(Fergus Falls, MN) -- Thanks to the recent installation of a radar-activated aircraft detection lighting system at Otter Tail Power Company’s newly operational 150-megawatt Merricourt Wind Energy Center, North Dakota skies are a little darker, but without compromising safety.
While flashing red warning lights on wind towers are critical to safety, they can be challenging to live with during the night. To meet residents’ desire for darker skies, and stay consistent with Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements, Otter Tail Power installed DeTect’s HARRIER ADLS solution at its Merricourt Wind Energy Center located in southeast North Dakota. This technology provides reliable, continuous 360-degree radar surveillance of the airspace across the 14,000-acre site.
“This radar surveillance system automatically activates obstruction lights to alert pilots only when aircraft is detected within three and a half nautical miles of the facility,” said Otter Tail Power Renewable Energy Construction and Operations Manager Harvey McMahon. “Warning lights remain dim until aircraft detection, keeping light at a minimum.”
The North Dakota Public Service Commission stipulated installation of this technology no later than December 31, 2021. “It was important to us to minimize the impact on local communities without compromising aircraft safety in a timely manner,” said McMahon. “Thank you to all who played a part in planning, installing, and testing this technology.”
“This light mitigation technology is one of the ways companies like Otter Tail Power are mitigating the impact of energy development on North Dakota’s landscape,” said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. “We’re excited about this technology and its ability to help preserve North Dakota’s beautiful night skies.”
The Merricourt Wind Energy Center harnesses some of the county's best wind resources to generate clean, low-cost energy. Its 75 Vestas wind turbines produce enough energy to power 65,000 homes annually. By 2023 approximately 35 percent of the company’s energy generation will come from renewable resources, with nearly 90 percent of that renewable energy being wind powered.