Bats and Wind Energy – Your Voice Needed

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting information and ideas from the public on a proposal to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for wind energy facilities in the Midwest.

Bats that will be affected include endangered species, such as the Indiana bat.

An automated letter is included below. If you’d rather not use the letter provided below, please submit your comments to:

Regional Director, Attn: Rick Amido
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services
5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990
Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
Fax: 612/713-5292 (Attn: Rick Amidon)
Email: midwestwindhcp@fws.gov

The deadline for receiving comments is December 3, 2012.

 

 

Bats and Wind Energy

Dear Regional Director, Rick Amido:

I feel very strongly that a strategy to minimize harm to bats should be mandatory, such as changing cut-in speed to reduce bat fatalities, and avoiding the construction of wind turbines on ridges or other migration corridors, and building them less than 60m tall.

I’m certain you are aware of the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (www.batsandwind.org). Several scholarly publications regarding curtailment options have been published there, including one which compared the operational cost of raising the minimum wind speed operation for turbine rotation and electricity generation. An article by Dr. Edward Arnett displayed that this curtailment option significantly reduced nightly bat mortality by as much as 90% but had a marginal cost to the utility of only 1% of their annual income. Another study found that ultrasonic deterrents similarly reduced mortality, though not to as great a degree as raising the minimum operational wind speed. I would like to see multiple mitigation methods used in areas where sensitive species might be harmed by wind turbines.

Careful planning of wind energy development is necessary to ensure its sustainability. For this reason I would like to see acoustic, visual and capture-release surveys at proposed wind farm locations whenever possible so that the need for mitigation actions in the future can be reduced. The FWS should create a standardized post-construction survey and reporting protocol for bat and bird fatalities at wind farms which includes daily searches for carcasses and searcher efficiency tests during peak activity and migration windows in areas with sensitive populations.

As a consumer of electrical energy, I would be willing to pay a marginally more expensive utility bill each month for such a reduction in needless death. One of the reasons why sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal energy are so popular with the public is that they are substantially less detrimental on our environment than carbon-emitting energy sources. While I feel that curtailment at low wind speeds and deterrents should be necessary at all wind farms, I particularly feel they should be enforced where endangered, threatened or migrating species occur.

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