Upper Midwest customers of Xcel Energy are now receiving renewable energy from two newly completed wind facilities, the 150 MW Foxtail Wind Project in south-central North Dakota and the 200 MW Blazing Star 1 project in southwest Minnesota.
Both projects will employ radar-activated aircraft detection lighting systems (ADLS). ADLS is a new technology that activates turbine-mounted lights when the radar detects a nearby aircraft, alerting pilots to the locations of each wind turbine.
The system will keep skies in the rural area dark during nighttime hours while also keeping pilots and passengers safe. The technology will also help enable autonomous beyond-line-of-sight drone flights that will support maintenance activities at the wind projects. Foxtail’s ADLS system is complete, and the Blazing Star system will be completed later in 2020. The systems were designed by Terma North America.
The Foxtail Wind Project, located in Dickey County, N.D., features 75 turbines covering about 20,000 acres. Construction began in May 2018 when crews built the substation, underground collection cables and concrete foundations for the turbine. Wind tower and component installation began in June 2019. More than 200 construction workers helped build the project, which will employ about 10 full-time maintenance and operations workers. West Fargo, N.D.-based Wanzek Construction built the project.
The Blazing Star 1 Wind project, located in southwest Minnesota about 30 miles west of Marshall, features 100 turbines covering about 35,000 acres. More than 175 construction workers helped build the project, which was led by Mortenson Construction.
The adjacent Blazing Star 2 project will soon begin construction.
By 2022 Xcel Energy will build or purchase wind energy from new wind projects totaling 1,970 MW of new energy. At that time, more than 40% of Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest electricity will come from renewables.
Photo: A Wanzek Construction technician