A windfarm permit for the mountains south of Glenrock was approved this week by the Converse County Commission. The 60 Turbine installation by Wasatch Wind was approved with a commitment from the company to use a new radio activated lighting system. Its application would likely be a first for the wind energy industry in this country.

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Approval of Pioneer Wind Park I and II by the Converse County Commission was the most recent step in a multi-year process for Wasatch Wind. Significant for many, will be the company's decision to use an, as yet, unapproved radar triggered lighting system.

"We have committed as part of our Converse County council permit to use a radar system that will keep the turbine lights off at night unless a low flying aircraft is detected, because that was one of the concerns we'd heard from a lot of people is that they don't like the blinking lights on the turbines."

Michelle Stevens, Communications Director for Wasatch, says company employees don't like the blinking lights either, and so, despite the significantly higher price tag, they want to use it in order to minimize the impact on the night sky.

If approval is late in coming they've agreed to have the turbines ready for retrofit. She says currently this same technology is used on bridges and transmission lines, "because its still new it hasn't been used on a wind farm in the United States yet. This radar system is used on wind farms in Europe and  this same technology is being used in Canada. The FAA understands that the wind energy industry wants to start using this technology so they've been working with this Canadian wind farm. They're going to begin testing it in Canada so that companies here in the U.S. can start using it. So its not a new technology.  It's used in many other forms, just not on wind farms."

The 4 to 1 vote comes about two weeks ahead of a scheduled Industrial Siting Council hearing, so Wasatch isn't out of the woods yet. They'll likely be hearing more from a strong contingency of landowners in the Northern Laramie Range that have put forward a well organized opposition.

The Wind Farm is unlikely to be seen from Glenrock or Casper, but the view shed  for the mountains will be impacted.

Watsatch in their final application to the council moved almost half the turbines to some degree in response to public comment.

Questions were also raised about conditions for road use and she says they'll be strengthening that language, "making sure that the roads that we use are left as good or better than we found them at our expense."

In addition the company will be not be allowed to use Windy Ridge or Boxelder Roads for Equipment.

The Industrial Siting Council Hearings begin May 16th in Douglas. Any one wishing to make public comment to the commission must register in advance, but written comments will be accepted. Link to Pioneer Wind Park Website.

link to Industrial siting council and Pioneer Wind Park Website;