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 here