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Tri-Cities lawmaker wants wind turbines to turn the lights off — sometimes

caption: Wind turbines in Washington state.
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Wind turbines in Washington state.

A lawmaker in the Tri-Cities wants to limit how long warning lights on top of wind turbines can stay on. Such lights, way up high, warn airplane pilots of their presence.

Residents near wind turbines say the blinking red lights on top of the tall structures are hypnotic, distracting, and a nuisance. While the lights keep aircrafts safe, Tri-Cities Representative April Connors says they don’t need to blink constantly from sundown to sun up.

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Connors is proposing a bill that would essentially have someone flip the light switch on when it's needed, and off when it's not. HB 1173 would require radar monitors to turn on the lights as planes approach. The bill would also require Washington state adopt light mitigation rules by January 2025.

“It’s a monitoring system that works with the radar on the airplanes, that when they’re close by, the lights turn on. When the airplanes go safely by, they turn back off.”

Wyoming, North Dakota and New Hampshire use similar types of aircraft detection lighting systems.

Tri-Cities residents also say a controversial renewable energy project, called the Horse Heaven Hills Energy Center, would bring hundreds of blinking red lights very close to many homes. However, business groups worry retrofitting existing wind turbines could raise energy costs.

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