With U.P. residents paying some of the highest power costs in the country, it’s no surprise that nearly 70 people attended a discussion Tuesday night at the Orpheum Theatre to discuss alternative energy solutions.
University of Michigan Professor Sarah Mills was the key speaker at the discussion.
Mills has been conducting a statewide survey since 2013 about public perception of different energy solutions such as wind turbines, both inland and offshore, and solar energy and is traveling across the state sharing her data.
Mills said, “This survey is sent out to every local government in the state. They asked about support for onshore wind and offshore wind in the state of Michigan. Local officials are more accepting of onshore wind then offshore wind by a slight margin.”
During a question and answer part of the discussion, Mills shed some light on some concerns brought up by citizens.
Some of the areas of concern included the impact that wind turbines have on wildlife, such as bird migrations that travel through a turbine’s wind field.
But Mills pointed out that manufacturers of wind turbines are currently testing radar detection equipment that would combat such occurrences by disabling the turbine’s impellers when flying objects were detected.
The same principal would apply to the blinking red lights located on the top of each turbine currently mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The lights are on top of the tower to warn pilots of high standing obstacles in the darkened night sky.
The idea is that the lights would remain off to appease residents who live near wind fields and find the red blinking lights to be unsightly.
Once an aircraft is detected, the lights would begin to blink while in sight of plane, minimizing visibility time of the blinking towers.
Both of these evolvements are still in the testing stages and are subject to FAA approval.