White County, Indiana – Wind Farm

Time to get nerdy… For those of you that don’t travel north on I-65 much there is a HUGE wind farm in White County.  It’s pretty mesmerizing during the day because the wind turbines stretch as far as the eye can see.

I was driving back from Chicago the other night and as I approached the White County farm (that has a goal of 600 turbines) I could see dozens of red lights on the horizon.  As I drove closer I realized what they were and I also realized that ALL of the Obstruction lighting was Synchronized.

As mesmerizing as the turbines are during the day the giant expanse of synchronized warning lights was almost as captivating. I found a white paper available online that explains the reasoning behind the coordinated light show.  Development of Obstruction Lighting Standards for Wind Turbine Farms:

Considering the lighting concepts currently used for illuminating radio towers and long-span bridges, which states that obstructions near to each other should be treated as if they were one large obstruction, a similar lighting concept was adopted for illuminating the wind turbine farms. The lighting concept for wind turbine farms includes the use of red, simultaneously flashing lights positioned on the outer perimeter of the wind turbine farm, each spaced no more than one-half statute mile from each other, and requires only one fixture per turbine. As long as the wind turbines are painted white in color, daytime illumination is not required.

As I was doing research for this post I also came across information that I had not heard before.  Evidently these giant wind farms are tied to a large number of bat fatalities in the area.  It’s bad enough that some wind farms are shutting down at night.  Like them or not bats provide a great service to humans.  Some species of bats, such as the Little Brown Bat, can eat 500 – 1000 mosquitoes in one hour. So if we consider the night 8 hours, that can add up to 4000 – 8000 in a night!

While I’m not opposed to this kind of energy generation I understand for the residents that live near these farms there are a lot of issues.  These issues range from reports of a low-frequency hum to distracting shadows flowing across the windows of houses.  I’m also very concerned about the environmental impact from the deaths of neighboring bats.

What do you think?  Have you seen the nighttime light show on I-65? What are your thoughts on the ever-increasing growth of wind farms in Indiana?