Entries in bats (2)

3/13/12 Too close to home: Not old enough to vote or sign a petition but old enough and close enough to be tormented by wind turbines AND How green is a bird and bat killing machine? Wind industry claims ring false as slaughter exposed



March 12 2012 

by Alyssa Ashley

Since I am not old enough to vote or sign a petition, I would like a chance to voice the truth. On May 8, 2011, I left my home in Glenmore, Wis., due to many health problems that are a result from the Shirley Wind Project built at the end of 2010.

Inside my home, I was able to detect when the turbines were turning on and off by the sensations in my ears. I could not hear or see the turbines at the time; I could feel them. In early 2011, I had been noticing extreme headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation, all three things that were either a rarity for me, or nonexistent. This caused me to struggle with my school work. I could not concentrate due to pressure releasing from my head, or to the fact that I had very little sleep.

After staying away from my home for a week-and-a-half, my symptoms started to subside. I could sleep again, and my headaches were lessening. The longer I was away, the better I felt. Due to our turbine-related health issues, I spent all summer living in a camper with my family, away from the turbines.

At the end of August, my family reluctantly purchased another small house away from the wind turbines, leaving us paying two mortgages. I have not been in the Shirley area since Nov. 19, 2011, and I do not experience headaches anymore and I can sleep soundly.

My ears, however, are still sensitive to the cold and loud noises. This has never been a problem for me in my entire life, and I wonder if this damage to my ears will ever go away.

When contemplating wind turbine siting, think of me.

Alyssa Ashley

De Pere



Bonner R. Cohen

SOURCE Heartlander, news.heartland.org

March 13, 2012 

The American Bird Conservancy has filed a 100-page petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requesting replacement of FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines for operating wind farms with mandatory, enforceable standards designed to protect birds and bats from turbines’ deadly blades.

If FWS accepts the arguments laid out in the Bird Conservancy’s petition, wind farms will be subject to a mandatory permitting system and required to mitigate harm to birds and bats.

Massive Bird Kills

Although wind power supplies only 2 percent of electricity in the United States, FWS reports the wind turbines supplying that power kill 440,000 birds each year. Other analysts maintain the number is much larger because FWS may be overlooking a substantial number of birds that receive mortal wounds from turbine strikes but don’t die in the immediate vicinity of the machines, where FWS counts bird carcasses.

Two well-documented incidents in the mountains of West Virginia shed light on the magnitude of the problem. On a single night in September 2011, a single wind farm atop Mount Storm killed 59 birds. One month later, 484 birds were killed in a single night at the newly constructed wind farm on Laurel Mountain.

In these and other incidents across the country, birds of every description—hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles, the endangered California condor, yellow-billed cuckoos, wood thrushes, and other migratory birds—have lost their lives to wind farms.

Wind Farms Given Free Pass

Migratory birds may pose the biggest threat to the wind energy industry. To date, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has not been applied to wind firms, but the potential liability could pose a real problem to the industry. The law does not require intent, meaning incidental kills could be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The legal uncertainty over the potential liability of wind farms might make an FWS permitting process the lesser of two evils for the wind industry. Fearful a permitting process would lead to costly bureaucratic delays, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has expressed a clear preference for FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines. But a change of heart by the Justice Department leading to prosecution of owners of wind farms for incidental kills of migratory birds would cast a pall over the whole industry.

The industry has never been told it would not be prosecuted. Similarly, if endangered birds or bats are killed in sufficient numbers by wind farms so as to trigger lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act, the industry could be facing even greater uncertainty and costly litigation.

Congress Reconsidering Subsidies

Meanwhile, the wind industry, which has seen its political connections pay off in recent years, is facing a serious threat from another direction: Congress is losing its appetite for subsidizing renewable energy. The spectacular bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra, with a loss of over $500 million suffered by U.S. taxpayers, has made Capitol Hill lawmakers wary of loan guarantees and other subsidies designed to prop up renewable energy ventures.

For years, the wind energy industry has benefited from, and indeed depended on, one such subsidy, known as the production tax credit (PTC). The PTC provides a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind power generators for their first ten years of existence. In effect since 1992, the PTC could well expire at the end of this year. In working out a deal earlier this year on the extension of the payroll tax deduction, the House and Senate, despite heavy lobbying by AWEA, refused to include an extension of the PTC.

Without the PTC, the industry will be hobbled in its efforts to compete with cheaper coal and natural gas. With the growing likelihood of an expiration of the PTC at the end of the year, orders for new turbines have come to a screeching halt.

Wind Power’s Environmental Downside

“It’s about time that we look at the downside of alternative energies,” said Marita Noon, executive director of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.

“Since the theory of manmade climate change became fashionable, we’ve heard only that fossil fuels are bad and renewable energy is good,” said Noon. “The propaganda shows pictures of black smoke belching out of stacks contrasted with pristine, white, wind turbines. Neither reflects reality. The black smoke was cleaned up years ago. Wind turbines kill birds and bats.

“As Americans make energy decisions, they need to be based on reality, on complete science,” Noon explained. “There is no free lunch, and energy policy should fully weigh the pros and cons of each option.”

9/17/2010 When it comes to big wind projects, bats are in need of a super-hero-- National Geographic weighs in on what can be done to stop wind turbines from killing thousands of bats 

 How many bats are dying in Wisconsin wind projects?

Three recent reports indicate the bat kill rates in Wisconsin wind projects are ten times the national average and the second highest in North America.

According to a recent post construction mortality report from We Energies  the 88 turbines that make up the Blue Sky/ Green Field project have killed 7,000 bats during the first two years of operation.

Kill rates were the same in Dodge County's Cedar Ridge project and slightly higher in the Fond du lac County's Invenergy Forward project which is located alongside a national wildlife refuge.

Why Wisconsin bat mortality rates are so high in comparison to other parts of North America is unknown.


SOURCE: National Geographic News, news.nationalgeographic.com    

September 15, 2010

By Andrew Curry,

Windmills—clean, quiet, simple and endlessly renewable—may be the ultimate icons of green energy. But after sundown, their whirling blades have an unintended consequence that researchers are just beginning to understand: They kill bats by the thousands.

Their greatest impact may be on the few species of bats that migrate. Bat experts say that the problem, which peaks during migration season from July to late September, may be worse than we know—but there’s cautious optimism, too. Proposed solutions include installing speakers that blast ultrasound to drive bats away and selectively shutting off windmills when bats are most active.

Killed by the Thousands

The first hint that wind farms were killing bats came from the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center on Backbone Mountain on the ridge of the Alleghenies near Thomas, West Virginia (map). Biologists looking for birds killed by the windmills in 2003 found nearly 400 dead hoary bats and eastern red-tailed bats. They soon concluded that the West Virginia site alone was killing between 1,400 and 4,000 bats a year.

In the years since, bat experts have raised the same alarm at other wind farms in the United States and Europe. Although there have also been concerns about windmills killing birds, the problem might be more severe for bats. For reasons no one fully understands, bat species that migrate over long distances seem to be attracted to the tall windmill towers. Perhaps they mistake them for trees, or want to hunt the insects that swarm around the tall, white structures. Maybe they’re simply curious.

When they fly too close, the nocturnal creatures are often killed by windmill blades, which, at the tips, can reach speeds of more than 200 mph. These massive wing-like blades strike some of the bats, while other bats are killed when they get sucked into the low-pressure zone behind the spinning blades. The low pressure can rupture bats’ tiny lungs and hearts.

As more and more wind energy installations are built, researchers are finding proportionately more dead bats. But one problem in gauging the full scope of the carnage is that researchers have almost no idea how many bats there are. Since they fly in the dark, it’s hard to count them the way that researchers count birds. Migratory bats tend to be solitary creatures, roosting in trees and crevices, so they can’t be counted easily when they’re asleep. And they’re too small—many weigh less than an ounce—to be tracked as birds sometimes are, with tags that can pinpoint their whereabouts through the use of GPS, or global positioning system.

“No one’s ever been able to actively track these bats. Before they started showing up under wind turbines, they were very infrequently observed,” says Paul Cryan, a bat expert working for the U.S. Geological Survey in Fort Collins, Colorado. “The logistics of following animals at night without knowing where they’re going and where they’re going to land is tremendously difficult.”

That uncertainty makes it difficult to tell what kind of impact windmills are having on the overall population—and how effective efforts to reduce the number of bat kills are. “We don’t know if we’ve mitigated the effect of the kills, or if we’re just delaying a population crash for 10 or 15 years,” says Ed Arnett, director of programs at Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas. “But if you start adding it up over time, there’s just no way the animals can sustain this.”

Indeed, the many new wind projects across the United States—enough new windmills to power 2.4 million homes were installed last year—couldn’t have come at a worse time for bats.

Biologists are already overwhelmed trying to unravel a mysterious fungus known as white-nose syndrome that’s killing hundreds of thousands of cave-dwelling bats up and down the East Coast, with no cure in sight. “Those of us charged with the well-being of bats have really had the ground fall out from under us in the last 10 years,” Cryan says.

Renewable Energy Coexistence

But new research suggests that there may be hope on the horizon for protecting the migratory bats from windmill blades, at least. New methods for reducing bat kills are being tested in the field, and initial results are promising. One option is installing speaker systems on windmills to confuse and irritate bats with ultrasound noise, a frequency too high for human hearing. “It jams them, basically,” Arnett says. “We’re flooding them with white noise, which makes it uncomfortable and disorienting airspace to be in.”

So far, experimental speaker systems have reduced the number of bat fatalities 20 to 53 percent. But there are at least two problems with ultrasound systems, which cost $20,000 per experimental unit. First, modern windmill blades cover an area the length of a football field, too far to effectively project sound at that frequency. And the long-term consequences to bats and other wildlife of constant ultrasound are unclear.

Arnett has also experimented with an obvious solution: Turn off the windmills when bats are most active. For the past two years, Arnett has been working with Iberdrola Renewables, a large Spanish-owned wind energy provider, to selectively “feather,” or shut down, wind turbine at a wind farm in Garrett, Pennsylvania (map), when wind speeds are low. “It’s a time when we are not generating a whole lot of electricity to begin with,” says Iberdrola spokeswoman Jan Johnson.

In a forthcoming study, Arnett reports that during peak migration season, turning off windmills on the warm, late-summer nights bats like best—nights that don’t have that much wind to harness for energy, anyway—reduced annual bat fatalities by between 44 and 93 percent. Best of all, Arnett estimated that turning off windmills on the nights when bats were most active cost only .3 percent of the wind farm’s total annual power production. “We think there are ways to refine it so there are minimal impacts on the economics,” says John Anderson, siting policy director for the American Wind Energy Association.

The idea is gaining currency. Wind energy company Invenergy earlier this year agreed to time-of-year operating restrictions as part of a plan to protect the endangered migratory Indiana bat at a project it is now building in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. A federal judge temporarily blocked that project in response to a lawsuit by environmentalists; similar action over the risk to bats has been threatened over a new wind project in Maryland.

USGS bat expert Cryan says the Iberdrola study results are a relief to those who love the embattled bats. “Curtailment offers a great hope of minimizing bat fatalities,” he says. “Finally, this is something where we can come up with a solution to the problem.”

Note from the BPWI Research Nerd: The only reliable way to stop turbines from killing bats is to shut down the turbines at night.