Gov. Jay Inslee last week signed a bill that requires Washington wind farms to turn off their blinking aviation obstruction lights at night when no low-flying aircraft are around.
“This ensures wind farms are good neighbors,” Inslee said at the signing. There had been some speculation that the governor might veto the measure.
Rep. April Connors (R) introduced House Bill 1173 after residents of her hometown Kennewick complained that blinking lights at a proposed wind farm in the Horse Heaven Hills just south of the city would ruin their nighttime view of the ridgeline. The bill easily sailed through both the state Senate and House with bipartisan support. (See Washington House Calls for Dimming Turbine Lights.)
But Inslee vetoed two sections of the bill.
The first vetoed section would have made the bill effective immediately instead of the more typical date of July 1. Inslee did not say why he vetoed that segment.
The second vetoed section would have given county commissioners the authority to control the amount of light to be emitted.
Scout Clean Energy has proposed building up to 224 wind turbines — about 500 feet tall — on 112 square miles of mostly private land in the Horse Heaven Hills. About 294 acres of that land would also hold solar panels. The wind turbines and solar panels are projected to produce 1,150 MW at full capacity.
At a Jan. 16 hearing before the House Environment and Energy Committee, Connors said the blinking lights on top of the 500-foot towers could be seen across an area with roughly 200,000 residents. Germany has a similar law in effect, she said. Connors noted that Washington already has about 2,000 wind turbines.