General and Impact on Bats
The 420 wind turbines now in use across Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year -- mostly in the late summer months, according to the state Game Commission. That's an average of 25 bats per turbine per year, and the Nature Conservancy predicts as many as 2,900 turbines will be set up across the state by 2030.
This is a bad time to be a bat.
More than a thousand letters have been received objecting to plans to build two wind turbines in Grange Moor, Huddersfield, claiming they would be too close to a school and homes and would ruin the skyline of a scenic rural area.
Councillors are being urged to throw out the plans because officers say insufficient information has been provided.
West Virginia is the third-largest producer of wind power in the eastern United States, but as a judicial decision in Maryland this week shows, developing the resource isn't easy. ...Titus ordered the project halted until Beech Ridge and Invenergy, its corporate parent, obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Titus also said the company cannot operate any of the project's 40 existing turbines between April 1 and Nov. 15.
Opponents to a proposed electricity-generating turbine project in Champaign County questioned Thursday during state hearings whether the wind-turbines would harm an endangered species of bat, but a researcher who studied the issue said the windmills would not. ...UNU attorneys argued the study did not follow specific guidelines for net placement developed by the department of fish and wildlife. A follow-up study by wildlife officials, however, did find evidence of the Indiana bat in the area.
Meinke said she had worked closely with officials from the department of fish and wildlife when she conducted the study, which was deemed adequate at the time.
Eric Glitzenstein, a Washington, D.C., attorney who is preparing the lawsuit, referred to the Endangered Species Act.
"The courts view the unauthorized loss of even a single member of such a species to be an irreparable harm that should be prevented," he wrote in an e-mail. The letter of intent is required by the Endangered Species Act, he said.
The groups have yet to decide where the suit would be filed, Glitzenstein added.
"Our hope is that Gamesa - which touts itself as an environmentally responsible company - will agree either to do the right thing and abandon this ill-considered project site or, at least, do what is required by federal law and not proceed without applying for an ‘incidental take permit' from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
The Indiana bat has been a protected species since 1967.
Some say counting carcasses isn't enough.
That's why Illinois is changing the way it wants studies of wildlife around wind farms to be performed as more of the clean energy installations are planned around the state.
Previous research has been based almost entirely on mortality counts, the process by which bird and bat carcasses are scooped up early in the morning within a several hundred foot radius of wind turbine bases.
But studies now are aiming to determine a more long-range impact on avian and terrestrial creatures by examining how animals react to the sudden presence of a vertical structure soaring as high as 450 feet into the sky.
The shift in practice comes as other mortality studies are under way in the area, but only a few have been completed in the state. ..."It's unfair to assume, I think, that there's no environmental effects from wind (energy)," said Keith Shank, an impact assessment specialist with the DNR. "Until we get some firm data, the problem is, people are making multimillion-dollar investments with insufficient information."
State environmental officials want wind energy developers to pay closer attention to how their projects will affect birds and bats.
The Department of Environmental Conservation proposed a set of guidelines to promote wind power and minimize the danger to birds and bats.
Developers have been required to analyze how wind projects would affect wildlife before they are allowed to build and the new guidelines will standardize that review.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin has said that 70 percent of borough residents he has been in contact with oppose the wind farm project. This is a similar result to the Harrisburg Patriot News poll that revealed that 83 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose industrial wind farms on state forest lands.
Juniata Valley Audubon Society (JVAS) President Stan Kotala, M.D. has been at the forefront of the opposition in Gamesa's proposed wind farm on Ice Mountain. He said that the JVAS is not opposed to wind energy, but asks that wind energy be developed in an ecologically sound manner, avoiding ecologically sensitive areas, such as Ice Mountain.
"We ask that wind energy developers follow US Fish and Wildlife Service Guidelines calling for the avoidance of migratory pathways and unfragmented forests," said Kotala.
A divided Public Utility Commission shut the door Wednesday on conservationists' efforts to air concerns about the effect of planned Gulf Coast wind farms on migratory birds. ...Chairman Paul Hudson dissented, saying it would be in the public's interest for the commission to hear about the environmental impact and that denying the intervention would prevent the PUC from ever looking at the alliance's argument.
County Council narrowly agreed Wednesday to spend another $10,000 on new studies to make sure internationally significant bird, bat and raptor populations aren't harmed by looming wind energy projects.
However, some councillors complained that the Jones Consulting Group of Oakville, which is doing the county's wind energy planning study, should have anticipated the need for the additional research.
"I'm just a little disappointed in the whole process," said Leamington Mayor John Adams. He said he thought it was clear from the start that protection of birds, bats and raptors was going to be the major issue in the planning study.
Backers of a proposed wind farm in Highland County would have to search daily for dead birds and bats and curtail turbine operations to limit loss of animal life under a proposed wildlife-protection plan issued Wednesday by a Virginia State Corporation Commission hearing officer. ...Citing "significant risk" to bats, and "a lesser risk" to birds, Skirpan recommended that backers of the 19-turbine project should pay for monitoring and altering their use, including speed, for the life of the wind farm.
Following State Corporation Commission's decision in March to remand the case to its hearing examiner for further review on environmental concerns, months of testimony have been submitted and reviewed.
This week, the hearing examiner, Alexander J. Skirpan, submitted another report to commissioners, this time recommending "robust" monitoring of the potentially adverse impacts to wildlife, for the expected 20-year life of the project. ...Skirpan had previously concluded HNWD's project be approved by the SCC. But commissioners wanted to know what kind of details a monitoring and mitigation plan would include, rather than leaving those issues up to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and HNWD.
Developers have cleared another hurdle for a wind farm in Highland County. A hearing examiner has asked the State Corporation Commission to approve his recommendations to reduce harm to native birds and bats.
The Pennsylvania Biological Survey has gone to bat for the bats in a swirling policy debate over whether commercial wind power development should be permitted in state forests.
The debate pits advocates of wind power as an alternative energy source against those who fear that windmills are harmful to bats and birds.
Interest by California-based AES Wind Generation in establishing a large-scale wind energy operation in Gillespie County is being reconsidered, it was learned here Monday.
According to a City of Fredericksburg official who asked not to be identified, a letter from a company officer stated that AES SeaWest Inc. of San Diego has decided to discontinue pursuing wind energy in an area north of Fredericksburg that generally stretches between U.S. Highway 87 and RM 965.
Instead, the city official related, the company has decided to focus on other areas in Texas.
Prompting the decision, he added, was AES' concerns that sensitive species and bat colonies living in the area could be incompatible with large-scale wind energy.
Additionally, according to the National Wildlife Federation, wind-powered turbines could pose a threat to Indiana bats and other bat species, as well as birds. Some studies suggest the turbines might account for thousands of dead bats and birds yearly, the federation says.
Bats are being put in danger by the increasing number of wind turbines in Lincolnshire, it has been claimed.
Some conservationists have said turbines in the US and Europe have had a serious impact on bat populations.
The Bat Conservation Trust has called for talks with the renewable energy industry for more research ahead of more wind farms being built.
But the local Green Party dismissed the idea saying there was no evidence impact was significant.
Birds and bats have a powerful advocate in the new Congress.
It's making people in the wind energy industry nervous.
Representative Nick Rahall is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Rahall is pushing legislation that would more strictly regulate wind energy to protect the birds and bats that are killed when they fly into wind turbines.
News of a recently released consultants' study that found 123 birds and 326 bats dead - during a five-month period last year beneath approximately 50 turbines on the Tug Hill Plateau - has him worried the impact may be even more severe on birds and bats than the study found.
"It's not a good thing for avian life," Newhart said, adding he'd previously contacted Cornell University's ornithology department to check on impact turbines have. "I'm going to send this information out to Cornell to see if that engages them.
The wind-energy industry is objecting to federal legislation that seeks to protect birds and bats from wind turbines, arguing the measure would place unnecessary burdens on clean-energy projects.
The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act, a wide-ranging energy bill introduced this month, would create new standards for the placement and construction of turbines and mandate post-construction monitoring of their effects on wildlife.