5/11/10 TRIPLE FEATURE: Bye-Bye Brown County, Hello Invenergy AND Bye-Bye Birdie, Hello Wind Industry AND Bye-Bye Bat Population, Hello Post Construction bat mortality numbers showing Wisconsin wind turbine related bat kills among the highest in North America at ten times the national average
“The notion that the wind industry is predominantly made up of small, environmentally conscious operations is one that must be quickly dispelled.
These are large, corporate-scale utility companies, not unlike coal and oil conglomerates … with a checkered environmental track record to date.
Voluntary guidelines will not change that paradigm, and will work about as well as voluntary taxes.”
President, American Bird Conservancy
May 11, 2010
INVENERGY TRIES TO WOO BROWN COUNTY FOR WIND FARM PROJECT
SOURCE Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
May 11, 2010
By Tony Walter,
Invenergy LLC officials say they have a track record of profitable projects and satisfied customers to support their efforts to bring a wind farm to Brown County.
“If one looks overall at this, they’ll see there’s a high level of comfort,” said Kevin Parzyck, project manager for the proposed 100-turbine Ledge Wind Energy Project in four towns in southern Brown County. “Our feeling is that it’s a benefit to the community.”
Invenergy, one of the six largest wind energy companies in the country, according to the American Wind Energy Association, wants the local project to become its 23rd wind farm in the United States.
It awaits siting guidelines from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission as it fends off opposition from a citizens group that is protesting the location in Morrison, Wrightstown, Glenmore and Holland.
The PSC is expected to announce the guidelines by July, and Invenergy plans to resubmit its proposal based on those rules.
Many property owners in Brown County have signed contracts with Invenergy to permit wind turbines on their land in exchange for annual payments of approximately $8,000. Other property owners insist that the wind turbines will have negative health and safety impacts and will reduce property values.
But Invenergy officials say they have public opinion on their side.
The Wisconsin Legislature has been debating a bill that would require one-fourth of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. And a poll commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association claims that 89 percent of American voters believe that increasing reliance on wind energy is a good idea.
Parzyck said the proposed wind farm in Brown County is not a reckless plan and has the potential of being a $300 million project when completed.
“There has to be a rock solid plan in place if you’re going to have a huge upfront investment,” he said.
The opposition group, Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy, is misinforming the public, he said.
“The one thing I would say is this group is extremely well-funded and well connected statewide,” he said.
“They have said they do not believe renewable energy makes sense in Wisconsin, but that flies in the face of what the Legislature and electorate has asked for. And they haven’t offered any alternatives.”
The citizens group has said it doesn’t oppose wind turbines but objects to their locations. The decisions on where to locate the turbines were based on the towns’ zoning ordinances at the time, Parzyck said.
Bill Hafs, the county’s land and water conservation director, said he has been in contact with Invenergy officials to discuss the possible impact of wind turbine construction on groundwater. But he said the county has no say on the wind farm issue.
Invenergy’s financial worth isn’t disclosed because it is a privately owned company. It has wind farms in 14 states and one in Canada.
FEDERAL WIND FARM RULES MAY NOT SAVE BIRDS
United Press International, www.upi.com
May 10, 2010
The American Bird Conservancy says it fears proposed voluntary guidelines for wind farms will not prevent the deaths of birds by the turbines.
ABC President George Fenwick said Monday he sent letters to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey identifying key shortcomings in recent federal plans to address the affects of wind farms on birds.
“I find it ironic that the Interior Department is asking us to believe that the wind industry will follow voluntary guidelines when their own land management agency is not even doing so,” Fenwick said.
Fenwick said the Fish and Wildlife Wind Advisory Committee has made excellent recommendations for the generation of wind power that the conservancy wants adopted throughout the federal government. But Fenwick said the major shortcoming in the recommendations is that they are proposed as voluntary, rather than mandatory, and as such will do little to curb unacceptable levels of bird mortality and habitat loss at wind farms.
“The notion that the wind industry is predominantly made up of small, environmentally conscious operations is one that must be quickly dispelled,” Fenwick said. “These are large, corporate-scale utility companies, not unlike coal and oil conglomerates … with a checkered environmental track record to date. Voluntary guidelines will not change that paradigm, and will work about as well as voluntary taxes.”
THIRD FEATURE: A letter from a bat and a Wisconsin conservationist
The Bat in the Wind Turbine Facility… Today’s Canary in the Coal Mine
By Kevin Kawula
May 11, 2010
Things are going badly for our wildlife populations in and around the operating industrial scale wind projects in Wisconsin.
Anecdotal reports from people living in Wisconsin wind projects report an absence of normal wildlife, i.e. no turkey, no deer, fewer or no songbirds, and no bats. Relatives and friends outside the wind facility report greater numbers of deer and turkey.
The birds and deer are leaving the area, but the bats are as likely to be dieing, as leaving.
A recent post-construction bird and bat mortality report, conducted by We Energies (WEPCO) CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD as part of receiving approval for it’s Blue Sky Green Field project, shows that the bird deaths were 11 to 12 bird deaths/per turbine/per year. This is four times higher than the national average of 3 bird kills/per turbine/per year.
Even more alarming are the bat kill rates of 40.54 to 41/per turbine/per year This is more than ten times the reported national average of less than 4 per turbine per year.
Wisconsin's turbine related bat deaths are among the highest in North America, and equal to the bat mortality numbers from Pennsylvania/Appalachia area which stunned conservationists across the nation.
The total number of bats killed by the 88 turbine Blue Sky Green Field project is estimated to be between 3,500 to 3,600 per year.
Two additional post construction reports show the same bat kill rates at the Cedar Ridge project, and slightly higher kill rates at Invenergy Forward Energy project near the Horicon Marsh.
These three projects alone have resulted in an estimated 8,000 bat deaths per year.
That's 16,000 dead bats for the two years these projects have been in operation.
According to page 66 and 67 of the Public Service Commission's Environmental Impact Statement, the bat kill numbers for the pending Glacier Hills wind project are expected to be equally as high, adding at least another 3500 turbine related bat deaths per year.
Can Wisconsin bat populations sustain this kind of impact?
Bats are not being struck by the blades (135 feet long with tip speeds of 180mph), but are suffering catastrophic damage to their lungs as they fly into the low-pressure zone that is created behind the rotating blades.
This drop in pressure causes their lungs to expand rapidly, burst, fill with fluid and blood, and they drown. It is called barotrauma – deep-sea divers get a version of it called the bends, when raised too quickly from the depths.
Birds have different lung structures, so they are not as readily affected, but bats are mammals and have lungs much more similar to ours, so take a deep breath, and imagine you can’t stop inhaling until your lungs burst.
Bats live up to thirty years, reproduce slowly, maybe one pup a year, and and because they maintain tight family groups, the loss of a single bat can have a significant impact.
Bats are a vital link in the natural balance of Wisconsin’s wild and not so wild areas.
I cannot think of a time in human history that bats have not been flying over Wisconsin, but the loss of our bat population could happen in our lifetimes.
White nose syndrome, a nasal/respiratory fungus, is threatening cave roosting/hibernating species of bats, in the eastern United States into extinction, but has not yet reached Wisconsin.
Industrial wind turbines kill all species of bats, even the tree roosting/migrating species we hoped might be spared from the white nose blight.
If the state continues to follow its plan to add 200 to 300 new industrial turbines each year until 2025, turbine related bat deaths could be as high as 131,200 to 192,700 bats per year.
This total annual mortality number is unlikely, because the remaining bat populations would likely crash from mounting annual losses before then.
I am asking that we, as conservationists, help stop this needless slaughter.
Contact the Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin with your concerns.
Shari Koslowsky, Conservation Biologist with the DNR, has been very helpful in explaining the post construction mortality numbers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , (608) 261- 4382.
My main concern is that there is no representative of any organization with expertise in wildlife and natural habitat protection on the Wind Siting Council. The Wind Siting Council is a 15 member organization currently working on creating guidelines for siting wind turbines in our state.
I am asking that the DNR require the PSC to stop the operation of industrial scale wind turbine facilities at night (curtailment) when electrical demand is low and easily met by existing base load generation which cannot be shut off.
The period from dusk until dawn must be reserved for migrating and feeding wildlife as an equitable distribution of a state (“free wind”) natural resource, for the greater good of the whole rural community, human and animal. Night time curtailment would ensure safe passage for bats and night migrating birds, and provide a reliable period of quiet for the undisturbed sleep that is vital to any being's health.
CLICK HERE to leave a comment on the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council’s docket.
Thank you all for your time and consideration on this issue. Energy independence will eventually mean grid independence, but until then the decision makers need to face the facts and take responsibility for the harm caused by their decisions, and remedy the problem.
Board member of the Rock County Conservationists, TPE Member, Spring Valley Planning and Zoning board member, Owner and operator of Lone Rock Prairie Nursery, and Rock County Parks Volunteer.
WHAT WIND TURBINES MEAN CAN MEAN FOR BIRDS: