County Commissioner: “Wind Farm is a Hazard To Pilots”

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The Canadian Hills wind power facility in El Reno is all quiet Thursday.

The wind turbines haven’t been spinning for nearly three weeks, ever since an ice storm knocked out the power.

But for some residents, the more important power outage is to the blinking lights on top of the turbines.

“I would think it would be extremely important,” Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson said Thursday.  “These towers, when the blade is in the upright position, they can be as much as 300 feet high.”

The FAA requires lights on objects 200 feet or higher.

Without those blinking lights in service, Carson believes area pilots are in danger of hitting them.

“There are airplanes, there’s farm planes,” he said.  “What if you have med flights to somebody that’s a farmer or somebody in that area that’s had health problems?  They would be in trouble flying into those without their blinking lights.”

Atlantic Power owns and operates this wind farm and their crews are currently working on restoring the damaged power lines and poles.

We’re told the whole facility was powered down for safety reasons but it should be up and running by the end of January.

NewsChannel 4 Bob Moore Chopper 4 Pilot Jon Welsh says “for the majority of the time as a pilot, you want to be looking outside looking for obstacles and the red light is really your last resort (of seeing an obstacle).”

Welsh said pilots should check notices every day of obstruction hazards.  But on foggy days like Thursday, when you can’t even see the tops of those wind turbines, Welsh said the pilots who aren’t licensed to fly above the clouds could be in danger.

“With visibility being low, they’re not going to see it till it’s a lot closer on them,” he said. “Where if they were blinking, you could see a whole row of them.”

We’re told Atlantic Power notified the FAA of the power outage in accordance with procedure, and the FAA issued what’s called a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) to alert pilots about the Canadian Hills wind farm lights being out.

Prior to its construction, the project went though the FAA non-hazardous review to aviation process.

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