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Businessweek Archives

Curtains for Wind (Literally)


Convincing local communities to allow wind farms nearby is often not an easy task. There are the obvious concerns about what the turbines will look like, how loud the spinning blades will be, whether birds will be harmed, and what the project will mean for local property values. But when We Energies, the Milwaukee, Wisc-based utility, recently tried to expand its wind production, it ran into an objection most of us hadn’t even thought of.

Some local people complained about the strobe-like effect of sun behind the windmills. When the sun is behind the wind farm, each blade blocks the sunlight long enough to make it seem like giant hand is flipping a solar light switch as fast as once per second.

We Energies’ solution? They were able to get people to accept the wind turbines by agreeing to pay for new window treatments—curtains or shades.


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