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Wind on Little Equinox - PC looks at Impact on Bats and Birds

In the continuing dialog between Endless Energy Corp. and people interested in the proposed five turbine wind farm, Monday's meeting focused on ecological issues.

Harley Lee reminded the audience that the project would have a positive impact on the environment by producing energy without burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil. "We have the equivalent of taking 2,500 cars off the road in terms of pollutants from traditional power plants."
Forest Hammond of the Agency of Natural Resources has studied impacts on six different wind projects. These include turbines at Searsburg, and initial studies at Little Equinox Mountain. "Wind turbines are new to us. We could only learn from the Searsburg project. We have been doing more than 1,000 projects per year, but most of these concern deer wintering areas and bear habitat."
Scott Darling showed the audience of 30 a slide presentation. "There are nine different bat species in Vermont. Six species are cave bats, and the other three are migratory tree bats." In studies at three wind farms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee with a total of 67 turbines there were an average of 33 bat fatalities per turbine a year. A separate study in Wyoming showed just 3.4 bat fatalities per year.
Darling said that there are two hibernacula or hibernation caves near Little Equinox Mountain. Bats hibernate for seven months of the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Harley Lee reminded the audience that the project would have a positive impact on the environment by producing energy without burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil. "We have the equivalent of taking 2,500 cars off the road in terms of pollutants from traditional power plants."
Forest Hammond of the Agency of Natural Resources has studied impacts on six different wind projects. These include turbines at Searsburg, and initial studies at Little Equinox Mountain. "Wind turbines are new to us. We could only learn from the Searsburg project. We have been doing more than 1,000 projects per year, but most of these concern deer wintering areas and bear habitat."
Scott Darling showed the audience of 30 a slide presentation. "There are nine different bat species in Vermont. Six species are cave bats, and the other three are migratory tree bats." In studies at three wind farms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee with a total of 67 turbines there were an average of 33 bat fatalities per turbine a year. A separate study in Wyoming showed just 3.4 bat fatalities per year.
Darling said that there are two hibernacula or hibernation caves near Little Equinox Mountain. Bats hibernate for seven months of the year. The Dorset bat cave is very large, and houses more than 2,000 bats. It is several miles from the project. Skinner Hollow cave is only about 3,000 feet from the nearest proposed turbine. It is the hibernation site for a much smaller colony of bats.
One species is on the federal endangered species list. This is the Indiana bat which has been seen in the Dorset bat caves. According to Darling there is little or no information on bat populations or bat migration across the state.
Darling recommends a three-year post construction monitoring survey. He said that during that period some operational adjustments might be recommended to reduce bat fatalities. He said there appeared to be less activity on rainy nights or when there were high wind speeds. Migration periods also produce more activity.
Planning Commissioner William Drunsic asked if there was any evidence that turbines are attracting bats. Darling said there are some theories that suggest turbines do attract bats, but nothing conclusive is known at this time.
Steven Pelletier of Woodlot Alternatives, Inc. addressed the impact of turbines on songbirds. Studies at wind turbine sites across the country have documented collisions by both migrating and resident birds with wind turbines and estimate an average of 2.2 avian fatalities per turbine per year for all species combined. Some species, especially raptors such as hawks, golden eagles, falcons and owls appear to be at higher risk relative to their numbers.
Songbirds migrate at night, and travel in flocks of thousands of birds. In a study in the fall 2004 at Little Equinox Mountain the hourly passage rate varied from 32 to over 2,000. The birds were flying well above the turbine height. About 750 feet high in the fall 2004 study, and about 650 feet in the spring 2005 study.
Art Gilman of Gilman & Briggs Environmental, Inc. of Barre discussed the flora and fauna impacts. He said he started his study in 2001, and walked the entire corridor. "I did not find any rare or endangered species along the path that I walked."
Gilman said there are some wetlands along the path from the base of the mountain to the point where the power enters the Northeast Power Grid via the CVPS lines in Sunderland.
There are some wetlands near Rte. 7A. There is a larger wetland associated with the Battenkill River. The power line will be buried in the road shoulder in this area, and will be strung beneath the bridge in a conduit.
According to Harley Lee, project construction and maintenance in wetland areas will use standard techniques that have been found in Vermont to have less than significant impacts on wetland functions and values.
The next meeting in this series of informational public events is scheduled for Monday Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Manchester Town Hall. That meeting will discuss energy issues and economic impacts.
 

Source: http://www.manchesterjourna...

DEC 3 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/583-wind-on-little-equinox-pc-looks-at-impact-on-bats-and-birds
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