Library filed under Impact on Birds from Michigan
A wind energy developer who wants to erect 400-foot tall wind turbines on a picturesque U.P. peninsula is getting resistance from environmental groups concerned that the spinning blades threaten migratory and other birds including bald eagles. The developer, called Heritage Sustainable Energy, already operates 14 wind turbines on the Garden Peninsula, located in Delta County, and wants to add 21 more there.
A recent study of 183 DTE Energy wind turbines found that bird and bat deaths per megawatt is just above average compared to other wind parks in the Midwest.
The sky above a tabletop-flat expanse of eastern Michigan farmland near Lake Huron is a well-traveled pathway for migratory birds journeying between summer nesting areas in Canada's boreal forests and wintering grounds to the south. Thanks to reliably brisk winds, the ground below is dotted with hundreds of electricity-generating turbines.
Garden Peninsula Foundation in January filed a lawsuit against Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy LLC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The group is seeking damages for loss of quality of life and asked that the project be re-evaluated or abandoned.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote to the county in October to say land area within three miles of the Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay shorelines needs to be protected from wind energy development. Months later, planners gave the go-ahead to a developer with plans to put at least 20 wind turbines within two to three miles of Saginaw Bay. On Tuesday, County Commissioner Ron Wruble questioned why a developer would ignore the federal agency’s directive.
Land area within three miles of the Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay shorelines deserves to be protected from wind energy development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a letter addressed to county commissioners.
“If municipalities are going to go by avian studies that are funded by turbine developers, they’re not going to find mention of something such as this migration that has been documented since 1991. Right now, we are relying on numbers from the exact corporations that don’t want to find any dead birds, because any dead birds they find is subjected to prosecution and fines.”
“There are relatively few places where wind development would be much worse for birds than Michigan’s Garden Peninsula,” said Hutchins. “The development is in a key migratory corridor, is located very near another such corridor, and is in close proximity to three designated Important Bird Areas, including a critical breeding area for the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler, which lies just to the east.”
Operators of the Stoney Corners Wind Farm in Missaukee and Osceola counties say they are considering obtaining a permit allowing the “taking” of a bald eagle if an eagle hits or is killed by one of its wind turbines.
This gut wrenching poem tells a true story.
In this strongly worded letter sent to Heritage Sustainable Energy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service advises Heritage to table its plans to erect a commercial wind energy facility on the Garden Peninsula because of the high potential for avian mortalities and violations of Federal wildlife laws.
Muskegon County's effort to "go green" is running up against an unlikely foe: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which says the county's proposal to erect wind turbines would endanger birds. County officials are considering installing three commercial-size turbines on a capped landfill at the county's massive wastewater site. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have written a letter opposing the proposed project.
A wave of wind development blowing across Michigan's Thumb may be halted by tundra swans and other wildlife. DTE Energy has signed up 25,000 acres of farmland for as many as 250 windmills across the Thumb. But plans for up to 43 windmills on 4,300 acres in Lake Township have some residents and bird experts crying fowl - as in waterfowl. They believe erecting windmills in the township will result in bird kills and injuries, from birds being chopped up or injured by windmill blades.
Sometimes it's not easy being green. Proponents say Michigan is ideal for wind generation, a Green Power energy source that is pollution free and self renewing. But some worry that spinning wind turbine blades up to 85-feet long could be lethal scythes for migrating birds, especially if, as some predict, wind generation gathers steam in Michigan.