Xcel Energy, along with other construction partners and local landowners, will celebrate the construction of its Foxtail Wind Project, a 150-megawatt wind farm in Dickie County, near Kulm, N.D., that will be able to provide enough renewable energy to power nearly 80,000 homes.
The event, which will be held Wednesday, Aug. 12, will be attended by North Dakota Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, as well as Xcel Energy executives and other state government officials.
The wind turbines will have a red-light system that will automatically turn on at the approach of small aircraft, increasing safety for pilots and passengers, as well as having the goal of keeping the night sky dark. The aircraft detection lighting system was developed by Airtonomy, a Grand Forks-based technology company.
“There will be a radar tower set up there that will be able to alert the lights to come on if there’s an aircraft approaching the footprint of the wind farm,” said Mark Nisbet, North Dakota's manager for Xcel Energy. “Normal position will be that the lights will be in the off mode unless there’s a plane within that area.”
The radar tower also will be used as a source of information for drones, as they assist in observing the wind facility for maintenance.
“Once we have those drones housed on site, like the plan is, then we could use them for other routine tasks, and the whole point of it is the idea of increased productivity and safety,” Nesbit said.
The Wednesday event also will feature children from the Kulm school district planting pollinator-friendly plants, such as prairie grasses, at the wind farm’s substation in order to create a habitat for bees, butterflies and other wildlife. Xcel currently has 2,100 acres of similar habitat in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Foxtail Wind Project, which cost an estimated $200 million, is set to go online near the end of September.