4/1/11 How Green is a Bat Killing Turbine? Dead bats mean more corn borer larvae, more pesticides and lower crop yields AND When wind developers say MAKE ME: Invenergy ignores PSC's requests for latest bird and bat post construction mortality study AND It's April Fool's day but this is no foolin'--- Where wind developers have been prospecting in Wisconsin
NOTE FROM THE BPWI RESEARCH NERD: According to numbers in a previous bird and bat post construction mortality study paid for by Invenergy for the Forward Wind project located near the Horicon Marsh, the turbine related bat-kill numbers are staggering: it appears that well over 10,000 bats have been killed in just three years of the Forward project's operation.
The turbine related bat kill rate in Wisconsin is ten times higher than the national average and the second highest in North America. Yet nothing is being done about it. In fact, the Public Service Commission can't even get Invenergy to submit a long-past-due required mortality report.
Who ya' gonna call?
Better Plan has contacted the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, Bat Conservation International and a multitude of journalists with this information but so far no one has moved to look more closely into this story.
Meanwhile, bats are being slaughtered by the thousands in Wisconsin wind projects. Horton may hear a Who but at the moment environmentalists and media aren't taking any calls from Horton.
DEAR EMPEROR OF INVENERGY, STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE: THE PSC WANTS TO KNOW WHY YOU WON'T RELEASE YOUR LATEST POST CONSTRUCTION BIRD AND BAT MORTALITY STUDY
"Agency staff has repeatedly requested the required reports. To date, no satisfactory explanation has been received for their delay nor a firm date established for their submission. At minimum, submittal of the final report is required to comply with the requirements of the Commission’s Final Decision for this docket. Please submit the required reports."
-PSC's letter to Invenergy dated 3/25/2011
FROM: DAN SAGE at the PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN
TO: MIKE COLLINS, INVENERGY LLC, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
DATE: MARCH 25th, 2011
Dear Mr. Collins:
In the Commission’s Final Decision on July 14, 2005, Forward Energy LLC (Forward) was required to conduct post-construction bird and bat studies in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Data collected from these studies were to be submitted to agency staff on a quarterly basis. In addition, Forward was required to conduct a population viability analysis with associated sensitivity analyses for bat populations.
As a means of complying with the Commission’s Final Decision, three study plans were reviewed and approved by agency staff. These studies included a bird use, a bat use, and a bird/bat mortality study. Within each of these plans was an agreed-to timetable for field study and report submittal.
Forward initiated field studies in July 2008. The bat use and bird use studies ended in November 2009. Data collection for the mortality study ended in May 2010. The last report received from Forward summarized data collected through February 1, 2010. Forward has not submitted a report summarizing the data collected during the period of April through May of 2010.
Additionally, the final report has not been submitted. The final report is required to contain at a minimum the following items:
Summary of all field data collected during the years of 2008, 2009, and 2010;
Comparison of pre-construction and post-construction relative abundance and diversity of birds;
Impact gradient analysis of bird use and behavioral data relative to the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge;
Analysis of the changes in pre-construction versus post-construction avian habitat;
Analysis of the type and number of bats that use the Forward airspace compared to the bat fatality estimates resulting from the wind turbines;
Mortality estimates incorporating scavenger and searcher efficiency rates using the best available estimation formulas and reported as avian and bat fatalities per megawatt per year and per turbine per year;
Additional analyses including comparing the mortality at control sites to the mortality at turbine sites and correlation analyses between mortality and weather, turbine locations, turbine operating status, and bird and bat activity.
Agency staff has repeatedly requested the required reports.
To date, no satisfactory explanation has been received for their delay nor a firm date established for their submission. At minimum, submittal of the final report is required to comply with the requirements of the Commission’s Final Decision for this docket. Please submit the required reports.
If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact Marilyn M. Weiss by telephone at (608) 241-0084 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
/s/ Dan Sage
Gas and Energy Division
NOTE: Click on the image below to watch a video about Invenergy's Forward Project wind turbines alongside Wisconsin's famed Horicon Marsh and near the Neda Mines, home to the largest bat population in the state.
BATS WORTH BILLIONS TO AGRICULTURE:
PEST-CONTROL SERVICES AT RISK
April 1, 2011
BOSTON, -- Thomas Kunz, Warren Distinguished Professor in Boston University's Department of Biology, has coauthored an analysis published this week in the journal Science that shows how declines of bat populations caused by a new wildlife disease and fatalities at industrial-scale wind turbines could lead to substantial economic losses on the farm.
Natural pest-control services provided by insect-eating bats in the United States likely save the U.S. agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year, and yet insectivorous bats are among the most overlooked economically important, non-domesticated animals in North America, noted the study's authors, scientists from the University of Pretoria (South Africa), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Tennessee, and Boston University.
"People often ask why we should care about bats," said Paul Cryan, a USGS research scientist at the Fort Collins Science Center and one of the study's authors. "This analysis suggests that bats are saving us big bucks by gobbling up insects that eat or damage our crops. It is obviously beneficial that insectivorous bats are patrolling the skies at night above our fields and forests—these bats deserve help."
The value of the pest-control services to agriculture provided by bats in the U.S. alone range from a low of $3.7 billion to a high of $53 billion a year, the authors estimated. They also warned that noticeable economic losses to North American agriculture could well occur in the next 4 to 5 years because of the double-whammy effect of bat losses due to the emerging disease white-nose syndrome and fatalities of certain migratory bats at wind-energy facilities. In the Northeast, however, where white-nose syndrome has killed more than one million bats in the past few years, the effects could be evident sooner.
"Bats eat tremendous quantities of flying pest insects, so the loss of bats is likely to have long-term effects on agricultural and ecological systems," said Justin Boyles, a researcher with the University of Pretoria and the lead author of the study. "Consequently, not only is the conservation of bats important for the well-being of ecosystems, but it is also in the best interest of national and international economies."
A single little brown bat, which has a body no bigger than an adult human thumb, can eat 4 to 8 grams (the weight of about a grape or two) of insects each night, the authors note. Although this may not sound like much, it adds up—the loss of one million bats in the Northeast has probably resulted in between 660 and 1,320 metric tons of insects no longer being eaten each year by bats in the region.
"Additionally, because the agricultural value of bats in the Northeast is small compared with other parts of the country, such losses could be even more substantial in the extensive agricultural regions in the Midwest and the Great Plains, where wind-energy development is booming and the fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome was recently detected," said Kunz.
Although these estimates include the costs of pesticide applications that are not needed because of the pest-control services bats provide, Boyles and his colleagues said they did not account for the detrimental effects of pesticides on ecosystems or the economic benefits of bats suppressing pest insects in forests, both of which may be considerable.
The loss of bats to white-nose syndrome has largely occurred during the past 4 years, after the disease first appeared in upstate New York. Since then, the fungus thought to cause white-nose syndrome has spread southward and westward and has now been found in 15 states and in eastern Canada. Bat declines in the Northeast, the most severely affected region in the U.S. thus far, have exceeded 70 percent. Populations of at least one species, the little brown bat, have declined so precipitously that scientists expect the species to disappear from the region within the next 20 years.
The losses of bats at wind-power facilities, however, pose a different kind of problem, according to the authors. Although several species of migratory tree-dwelling bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines, continental-scale monitoring programs are not in place and reasons for the particular susceptibility of some bat species to turbines remain a mystery, Cryan said.
By one estimate, published by Kunz and colleagues in 2007, about 33,000 to 111,000 bats will die each year by 2020 just in the mountainous region of the Mid-Atlantic Highlands from direct collisions with wind turbines as well from lung damage caused by pressure changes bats experience when flying near moving turbine blades. In addition, surprisingly large numbers of bats are dying at wind-energy facilities in other regions of North America.
"We hope that our analysis gets people thinking more about the value of bats and why their conservation is important," said Gary McCracken, a University of Tennessee professor and co-author of the analysis. "The bottom line is that the natural pest-control services provided by bats save farmers a lot of money."
The authors conclude that solutions to reduce the impacts of white-nose syndrome and fatalities from wind turbines may be possible in the coming years, but that such work is most likely to be driven by public support that will require a wider awareness of the benefits of insectivorous bats.
The article, "Economic importance of bats in agriculture," appears in the April 1 edition of Science. Authors are J.G. Boyles, P. Cryan, G. McCracken and T. Kunz.
NEXT STORY: WHERE ARE THE WIND DEVELOPERS PROSPECTING IN WISCONSIN?
Wisconsin wind project locations: proposed, existing and being built:
WIND DEVELOPERS HAVE BEEN SPOTTED IN:
Town of Lincoln
Town of Bayfield
Towns Glenmore, Greenleaf, Holland, Morrison, Wrightstown
Invenergy's Ledge Wind project (currently on hold)
Emerging Energy's Shirley Wind project (Town of Glenmore. Now under construction)
Towns of Brothertown, Charlesburg, Chilton, New Holstein, Rantoul, Stockbridge
We Energies Glacier Hills project (under construction)
Towns of Arlington, Cambria, Leeds, Randolph and Scott.
Invenergy is prospecting south of Prairie Du Chien
Town of Springfield
According to news stories, Wave Wind was looking for a contract with WPPI to buy the power. The outcome of negotiations between these two parties is unknown as of September 2010
Towns of Herman and Rubicon
Town of Clay Banks
FOND DU LAC COUNTY
Towns of Ashford, Brownsville, Byron, Eden, Empire
Cuba City, Towns of Hazel Green, Paris, Plattville, Smelser, Patch Grove, Mt. Hope
GREEN LAKE COUNTY
Town of Green Lake
Town of Montfort
Town of Casco
Towns of Belmont and Seymour
Towns of Mishicot, Two Creeks, Two Rivers
Town of Centerville Developer: Spanish company www.urielwind.com
Towns of Ridgeville and Wilton
Town of Kaukauna
Town of Freedonia
Towns of Center, Janesville, Spring Valley, Magnolia, Union
Landowner contracts in the Towns of Magnolia and Union originally secured by EcoEnergy have been sold to Spanish wind giant Acciona . Acciona says it has suspended the project because of low wind resource. However, they still own the project and can sell it.
Town of Rhine
ST CROIX COUNTY
Town of Forest
Town of Arcadia
Town of Ettrick
Town of Westby
Towns of Addison, Nabob, and West Bend