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Published on May 17th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

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Wind Energy Industry Supports Being Held to the Highest Standard in US for Wildlife Protection



 

It seems that green industries are sometimes held to a higher standard than other industries on all environmental matters. For example, even though wind and solar energy are worlds better than their fossil fuel alternatives (in many ways), they are fiercely attacked when they create any environmental or wildlife harm. Is that a good thing? Well, that’s a complicated question,… but it certainly does help the industries to be even greener than they naturally are.

In the latest news along these lines, the wind energy industry is supporting federal guidelines that hold it to a higher standard than any other industry in the nation when it comes to wildlife protection. Here’s an American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) news release from yesterday on the matter:

Wind Energy Industry Unites to Endorse Final USFWS Siting Guidelines

40 companies join AWEA in sending supportive letter to Secretary Salazar

May 16, 2012–The wind industry supports new federal guidelines to ensure that wind farms further minimize any impacts on wildlife, according to a letter released today.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the national trade association representing the interests of the wind energy industry, including project developers and facility owner-operators, sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, expressing support for the final version of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) voluntary land-based Wind Energy Guidelines, which were publicly released in final form in late March 2012. These guidelines followed nearly five years of collaboration between the wind energy industry, wildlife conservation organizations, native American tribes, and federal and state regulators.

By supporting and using the Guidelines, the wind energy industry is voluntarily agreeing to be held to a higher standard for wildlife protection than any other industry in the country, and even beyond what is required by federal law. In addition to AWEA, 40 individual member companies, including project developers, utilities, and turbine manufacturers signed the letter, showing the collective commitment to a process that represents a reasonable balance between the need to deploy wind energy and addressing the relatively modest impacts associated with development and operation of wind facilities.

Actual data from more than 80 post-construction mortality studies puts the impact of wind energy at approximately three birds per megawatt per year on average, which at currently installed levels equates to roughly 140,000 birds per year. By contrast, the impact is in the hundreds of millions of birds a year from collisions with buildings, domestic cats, and other human structures and activities, according to the USFWS and national conservation organizations. 

Even prior to the finalization of these Guidelines, the wind energy industry has done more pre- and post-construction wildlife studies than any other industry, and regularly mitigates for impacts.

The industry has also been proactive in collaborating with wildlife agencies and conservation organizations to resolve this challenge by supporting the creation of new organizations like the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative, the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, and the American Wind Wildlife Institute, which promote research and best practices.

Wind energy is a clean, inexhaustible, homegrown source of energy that is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity as it emits no pollution, creates no hazardous waste, and uses virtually no water. “AWEA and its member companies hope that through proper implementation, we and the other stakeholders will be able to collectively ensure that wildlife is adequately protected, while we create an environment in which robust development of U.S. wind energy can continue for years to come,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.

A copy of the letter, including signatories, is below.

 

May 15, 2012

The Honorable Ken Salazar, Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

Thank you for your leadership on the development and finalization of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Voluntary Wind Energy Guidelines, which were largely based on recommendations provided by the Federal Advisory Committee.  We write as AWEA, the national trade association representing all aspects of the wind energy industry, and individual project developers and owners, to express our support for the final version of the Guidelines.  The undersigned companies support the use of the Guidelines and AWEA commits to training its members on the Guidelines and urging adherence to them.

The publication of the final version of the Guidelines on March 23rd was the culmination of over 5 years of a painstaking, but collaborative, process between representatives of the wind energy industry, conservation community, USFWS, states, and tribes.  We should collectively be proud of the process that resulted in the development of these important siting guidelines, which hold this industry to a higher standard than is legally required and to a higher standard than any other energy industry in the country.

It is important to note that while no stakeholder got everything they wanted in the final version of the Guidelines, we believe they were developed through a fair and transparent process that resulted in a document that addresses the interests of all parties.  To the extent there are issues remaining that need clarification, we are optimistic they can be addressed during training and implementation of the guidelines.  These Guidelines will not only improve siting practices generally, but will also protect federally-listed as well as non-trust wildlife and their habitats to a greater degree than allowed under mandatory regulation.

As you are well aware, wind energy is a clean, inexhaustible, homegrown source of energy that is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity as it emits no pollution, creates no hazardous waste, and uses virtually no water.  These Guidelines represent a reasonable balance between the need to deploy wind energy and the need to protect wildlife and address wind energy’s modest impacts.

We look forward to working with the USFWS staff and other stakeholders during the implementation of these Guidelines so that they are properly interpreted and utilized by both the Service and industry.  We hope that through proper implementation we will be able to collectively ensure that wildlife are being adequately protected, while creating an environment where robust development of wind energy will continue to occur across our nation for years to come.

Sincerely,

 

Acciona Energy North America
Akuo Energy
Alton Energy
American Wind Energy Association
Apex Wind Energy
BP Wind Energy, N.A.
Clean Line Energy Partners LLC
Clipper Windpower Development Company LLC
CPV Renewable Energy Company LLC
DTE Energy
Duke Energy Renewables
Edison Mission Energy
EDP Renewables, North America LLC
Element Power
Enel Green Power North America
enXco
E.ON Climate & Renewables North America
EverPower Wind LLC
Exelon
First Wind
Gamesa
GE
Iberdrola Renewables LLC
Infinity Wind Power
Invenergy LLC
MAP Royalty
NextEra Energy
Nordex Energy Renewables
OwnEnergy, Inc.
Pacific Gas & Electric
Pattern Energy
Portland General Electric
Power Company of Wyoming LLC
Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.
Shell WindEnergy Inc.
Terra-Gen Power
TradeWind Energy LLC
US Mainstream Renewable Power, Inc.
Vestas – American Wind Technology, Inc.
Wasatch Wind Intermountain
Wind Capital Group

Thank you to the wind industry for all it does!

Image: wind turbines & birds via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • shripadpadhye

    It is well known and globally appreciated fact that fossil fuel stock is limited and is depleting fast particularly, with the growing human activities day by day. Moreover, rampant consumption of the fuels like oil and gas is causing threat to our planet as, it is steering the world to the corner of environmental imbalance and catastrophic climate change endangering the “life” on the earth.
    Today, little has changed – whether it is oil, natural gas, or electricity – disruptions in the flow of energy can cause major economic havoc and negatively affect both our national security and international stability. Hence, it is imperative for the developed as well as developing nations to plan a systematic shift from usage of conventional fuels to non-conventional energy source. These sources are inexhaustible and ever renewable. The energy derived from the renewable energy sources is clean and safe. The abundance of the natural renewable sources of energy like sun, wind and water are required to be harnessed for the betterment of mankind. Hardly a fraction of the solar energy reaching to the earth is utilised. Parallel to this, it cannot be denied at any stage that apart from the Industries, the civilized society is also consuming energy heavily for its daily needs, be it residence, office, cinema, malls, hospitals and inmates of society are either feebly aware of the sense of conservation or they have hardly been educated appropriately about the same. Merely publishing slogans to adopt the (now very common) device-CFL luminaries is quite insufficient in the wake of the fact that the number of consumers is increasing day by day and consuming conventional energy in higher magnitude is a potential threat to climate on the whole. Therefore, some concrete measures are to be adopted soon so that the situation remains within control before it becomes uncontrollably magnanimous. Certain measures to words cleaner, better and safe living with conservation of energy are: Educating people about hazards of uncontrolled usage of energy by consuming fossil fuels. Inculcate among the masses importance of energy conservation and benefits of the same in their everyday life. Introduce concept of renewable energy to people and foster in them value of this inexhaustible energy which when put to application leaves behind no trace of pollution or filth of any kind and a clean, healthy and economic living is ensured. Electric geysers be replaced with solar water heater by suitable enactment. Solar power plants to support cluster of houses in rural as well as urban localities. Restricting usage of inverters and encouraging usage of Renewable devices as stand by in the event of power cut. Controlled automobile usage & many more points…. In India too, the Govt. is putting in efforts to promote usage of the renewable energy. Recently the union Govt. has launched nationwide ambitious programme called “solar mission”, in order to extend convenient reach to the renewable energy sources for the country men.
    With the renewable energy on the national priority agenda there would be lots of opportunity for the youth to be absorbed. For this suitable addition, amendment and reform are to be introduced at the very training level so that employable skills are acquired by the students. Also, as the author has indicated, leveraging alliance partnerships to focus on targeted education, assisting in key workforce development, facilitating development of computer-based training for manufacturers of tomorrow’s smart grid technologies and tools, enhancing existing training systems and those that are currently manufacturing new technologies that will make the smart grid work may increase supply of the future workforce needed. So, the moral lies in the fact that despite above article the significance of conserving energy by gradually adopting non-conventional way of life harnessing renewable energy is not only vital but inevitable too. (shripad)

  • lovelife

    B’s!!!! if I every heard it. I have been following cleantechnica for about 6 mos. now and all the things concerning clean energy is great!!! what about the health of human and the life of our planet. big oil companies get all the breaks. never in my life where I see a country more worried about wildlife then human life. IT’S All ABOUT THE MONEY ZACH!!! (BP oil spill)
    more talk about the money then the people who lost they’re lives. BP did a great jobs on cleaning up and compensating the people who was effected. WAKE THE HELL UP PEOPLE AND SAVE THE PLANET AND HUMAN LIVES!!! instead of worrying about a f’n bird, come on now!!! r we thinking here!!! I’m not a clean energy employee, I ship products across america but the things I’ve read from this site as well as other sites. the republicans need to wake up and support clean energy if they love their grandkids, OPPS!!! Money first then families… this is crazy!!! CREATE JOBS for small clean energy companies. America will be on the right track.yep

    • Ross

      It is within the wit of man (and woman) to have clean energy at a competitive price and protect the local environment as well as contributing to all the other spin-offs like energy independence, security, improved public health, reduced medical costs and global warming mitigation.

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