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Oklahoma Panel seeks to ensure wind power is green

As the U.S. wind industry develops alternative sources of power generation, a federal advisory committee has spent two years looking at ways to minimize the impact on wildlife and its habitat.

The diverse 22-member committee submitted its report this week to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who will review the recommendations before directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate wind energy development on public and private lands in the nation.

"The Interior Department strongly supports the development of renewable and sustainable energy, including wind generated electricity," said Rowan Gould, the Fish and Wildlife Service's acting director.

The voluminous report contains both policy recommendations and proposed voluntary guidelines for siting and operating wind energy projects.

Any new guidelines would replace those established by federal wildlife officials in 2003, when there was little insight provided from wind industry officials.

Chris O'Melia, a wildlife biologist in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Tulsa office, said most interested parties were included in the discussion this time.

He offered some insight to the committee about the Oklahoma Wildlife... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

As the U.S. wind industry develops alternative sources of power generation, a federal advisory committee has spent two years looking at ways to minimize the impact on wildlife and its habitat.

The diverse 22-member committee submitted its report this week to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who will review the recommendations before directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to evaluate wind energy development on public and private lands in the nation.

"The Interior Department strongly supports the development of renewable and sustainable energy, including wind generated electricity," said Rowan Gould, the Fish and Wildlife Service's acting director.

The voluminous report contains both policy recommendations and proposed voluntary guidelines for siting and operating wind energy projects.

Any new guidelines would replace those established by federal wildlife officials in 2003, when there was little insight provided from wind industry officials.

Chris O'Melia, a wildlife biologist in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Tulsa office, said most interested parties were included in the discussion this time.

He offered some insight to the committee about the Oklahoma Wildlife Department's spatial planning tool, which helps wind developers gauge how their planned projects will affect the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken.

Oklahoma Environment Secretary J.D. Strong said the department's maps have quite a bit in common with those showing the state's wind potential.

"The two line up almost exactly," he said.

Strong said state wildlife officials have worked with wind developers and utility companies to head off potential problems.

He said new regulations on wind farm development likely aren't necessary at this point.

Jaime McAlpine, president of Edmond's Chermac Energy Corp., said he hopes wind developers already are doing the things recommended in the report to protect wildlife.

He said his company uses the state's planning tool and does its own avian studies to determine the potential impact of new wind development.

As Oklahoma Gas and Energy Co. has gotten into wind power, spokesman Brian Alford said, the company has been mindful of its obligation to protect the environment.

"We understand that responsibly developing wind resources in Oklahoma is an important part of a sustainable future," he said.

"A failure to develop our wind resources responsibly could result in regulations that would have a very detrimental effect. ... We place the avoidance of wildlife impact as a high priority when evaluating new projects."


Source: http://newsok.com/panel-see...

APR 16 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/25698-oklahoma-panel-seeks-to-ensure-wind-power-is-green
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