Library filed under Impact on Bats from Ohio
The Ohio Power Siting Board has recommended conditional approval of the $126 million Icebreaker six-turbine wind turbine project proposed by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. 8 to 10 miles northwest of downtown. But the staff has included more than 34 conditions. The six-turbine wind farm is expected to look similar to this offshore wind farm near Block Island in the Atlantic Ocean.
The OPSB postponed the adjudicatory hearing in response to a request from its staff to suspend the procedural schedule in this case to allow additional time to obtain more information from Icebreaker Windpower on the pre- and post-construction radar technology monitoring protocol selected for use at the project site for determining project impacts.
The recent cancelation of the proposed Camp Perry demonstration windmill was celebrated by the American Bird Conservancy of Virginia, and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory — a local bird research, conservation and education organization headquartered in Oak Harbor.
This brief, filed before the Ohio Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County, Ohio, responds to Iberdrola's (Avangrid Renewables) action to stop any public disclose of bird/bat mortality data at its Blue Creek wind facility. Iberdrola has argued that the number of birds and bats killed by its turbines is a “trade secret” protected under Ohio law. The introduction and summary of arguments for why Iberdrola's claims are not supported by Ohio law are provided below. The full brief can be accessed by clicking the links on this page. The original complaint can be found here.
Black Swamp Executive Director Kim Kaufman and ABC's Michael Hutchins, director of the conservancy's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign, said they support clean, renewable sources of energy such as wind power. But they maintain that "the Great Lakes are not a good place for large-scale, commercial wind energy projects," particularly in a region designated as a Globally Important Bird Area.
CLC and Union Neighbors challenged the agency's refusal to consider the higher cut-in speed proposal. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of CLC, stating that "[FWS] failed to comply with its NEPA obligations when it failed to consider an economically feasible alternative that would take fewer bats than Buckeye’s proposal."
“We conclude the (wildlife) service failed to comply with its NEPA obligations when it failed to consider an economically feasible alternative that would take fewer bats than Buckeye’s proposal, and we reverse the district court on that point,” [Circuit Judge Robert L.] Wilkins stated.
A U.S. Appeals Court ruling provided mixed results for a proposed wind farm in Champaign County. ...The court ruled that the federal agency used the correct standard to show Everpower minimized the impact but failed to consider other alternatives that would have led to fewer bats killed.
"The Service knew, at a minimum, that Buckeye claimed a full nighttime option was not economically viable, and it was aware of other, more viable measures that would still take fewer bats than Buckeye's proposal - Union Neighbors repeatedly suggested using a cut-in speed higher than 6.0 m/s," Judge Robert Wilkins said, writing for the three-judge panel. "Yet the Service failed to consider any higher cut-in speed in either the draft or final [environmental impact statement]."
The 15-page opinion credits the finding by FWS "that the minimization and mitigation measures 'fully offset' the impact of the taking of Indiana bats, and thus, it was not necessary to determine if the plan was the 'maximum that can be practically implemented.'"
A business park near the Camp Perry site already has put up a wind turbine, but it isn't operating yet. Kim Kauffman, director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, said they will be monitoring it. "If we were to learn it killed migrating birds or eagles, we would pursue legal action," she said. There are about 60 bald eagle nests within 10 miles of the wind turbine, she said.
The whirling turbine blades at a wind farm planned in Champaign County would almost certainly kill endangered Indiana bats. The developer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources all agree on that. They'll spend the next several months figuring out how to reduce the number of bats killed and working out just how many deaths are acceptable.
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.
The presence of the federally-endangered Indiana bat may delay plans to install wind turbines in southern Logan County, but shouldn't have an impact on Champaign County, said a wind company representative Friday. "We are aware of the bat being found and we're working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources," said Michael Speerschneider with Everpower Renewables.
Building turbines in some of the best places to harvest wind in Ohio could put millions of birds and bats -- some protected by state and federal law -- at risk. That's why the state is asking companies to sign voluntary agreements to study the risk before and after wind farms are built. And if the companies follow the rules, neither Ohio nor the feds will shut down turbines, even if thousands of animals are killed. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently sent agreements to 10 developers, and hired a wildlife biologist last week to draft rules that the companies would have to follow to limit harm. ...The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said it expects to join in the state's voluntary agreement as well. "We would agree to work cooperatively with (companies) and not necessarily pursue court action if wildlife species are taken," said Megan Seymour, a wildlife biologist at the agency's Ohio field office.
A wildlife biologist whose area of expertise is bat and bird activity, has joined the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to study the effects of wind turbines on native and migrating wildlife, especially in the Lake Erie Basin. Keith DeWitt Lott will study the impact that the rotating blades of wind turbines have on the 300 species of birds and nine species of bats found in the state. "As Ohio moves into the realm of wind-based energy, it's important that we do so in a socially and environmentally responsible way," said ODNR Director Sean D. Logan in a news release.