Entries in wind farm wild life (11)
1/20/12 Getting away with murder: All that's standing between wind developers and their obscene profits is that stupid law that protects endangered bald and golden eagles.
WIND FARM WILL SEEK PERMIT TO LEGALLY KILL EAGLES: TURBINES PLANNED NEAR RED WING WOULD ENDANGER PROTECTED SPECIES
by Josephine Marcotty
Via Star Tribune, www.startribune.com
January 20 2012
A controversial wind farm proposed near Red Wing plans to ask for federal permission to legally kill eagles, making it one of the first in the nation to participate in a new federal strategy aimed at managing the often-lethal conflict between birds and turbine blades.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials say they urged the developers of AWA Goodhue Wind to seek the new permit because the deaths of an unknown number of eagles and endangered golden eagles will be inevitable once the 50-turbine project is up and running.
The process for such “incidental take” permits was devised in 2009 as a compromise between the demand for clean energy from the growing number of wind farms and the rising concern over the estimated hundreds of thousands of birds and bats that they kill every year.
The 18.75-square-mile site in Goodhue County is home to a number of nesting eagles, and many more migrate through the area every year. There also have been sightings of two rare and endangered golden eagles, which come down from Canada to winter along the Mississippi River bluffs in southeastern Minnesota.
To get a permit, the company must provide a detailed plan designed to minimize the impact on protected species, project how many are likely to be killed each year, and keep track of the outcome.
The plan would have to be approved by the federal wildlife agency, giving it some future influence over the design and operation of the project, which is now under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
“There are a lot of issues,” said Mags Rheude, a wildlife biologist with the Minnesota office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’d have to come to an agreement.”
The developer, AWA Goodhue Wind, stated its intent to file for the federal permit in filings with the PUC, but did not respond to requests for comment.
Without the permit, the company could be subject to federal prosecution if the project results in the destruction of the birds or their nests.
In recent years, there have been four documented deaths and one injury to bald eagles from North American wind farms, and many more among golden eagles at one wind farm built along their migration path in California, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
So far, only one wind project, the West Butte Power Project in Oregon, has submitted a request for such a permit, but more are expected.
“There are a fair amount of wind farms lined up – hesitantly,” Rheude said. “I think there are a lot of people watching to see how the process will go.”
Regulators have doubts
In the meantime, however, federal and state wildlife officials say they have significant concerns about AWA Goodhue Wind’s wildlife protection plan, which will go before the PUC on Feb. 2. The commission’s decision is key in determining when and if construction starts on the locally contentious project, which has been in the works for more than two years.
For example, in its filings with the PUC, the company says it has been unable to accurately count eagles or predict how many might be harmed, because local opponents are engaged in an artificial feeding campaign to attract birds to the area.
But, in their sharpest critique, both the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Service said in their filings that no such campaign has been verified by state investigators. The project, they noted, is located in an agricultural area, where livestock and wild animal carcasses are common.
“Due to the large number of eagles already present in the area, it is likely eagles will discover carcasses quickly,” federal officials said. “Eagles feeding on carcasses will likely be a long-term issue for AWA Wind.”
Both the state and federal agencies also expressed concern about the company’s plan to remove woods and other habitat to keep birds and other wildlife away from the turbines. That would only serve to harm other species, they said.
They also raised questions about the company’s plans to measure the project’s impact on bats, which are becoming as great a concern among conservationists as birds. New research is finding that some species of bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines, because even if they manage to avoid the turbines, the pressure changes that occur as the blades move through air can cause fatal internal bleeding.
“In the next few years there may be more endangered species on the site,” Rheude said.
5/15/11 Hello wind turbines! Good-bye Wisconsin bats! Hello corn borer, crop loss, more pesticides-- but hey, as long as the wind developers are happy it must be good AND This is how we do it: PR firm gives helpful hints on how to infiltrate communities
Click on the image above to watch Wisconsin Public Television report on bats and wind turbines
WIND TURBINES THREATEN WISCONSIN BATS
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette, www.greenbaypressgazette.com
May 15, 2011
by Tony Walter,
Wind turbine industry reports filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin indicate that a significant number of bats fall victim to the turbine blades every night, which could mean crop losses.
The rate of bat mortality has a major impact on the agricultural industry, according to a U.S. Geological study recently published in Science Magazine.
The study, conducted by Boston University’s biology department, estimated that insect-eating bats save the agricultural industry at least $3 billion a year.
“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 Tom Kunz, an ecology professor at Boston University and co-author of the study.
White nose syndrome is a disease believed to kill and sicken bats, which first was noticed in Albany, N.Y., in 2006, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The source of the condition remains unclear, the agency said.
According to studies by Current Biology, National Geographic and Science Daily, bats can be killed without being struck by a turbine blade. The studies concluded that air in low-pressure areas near the tips of the blades ruptures the bats’ lungs and causes internal hemorrhaging.
In PSC reports obtained by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, a post-construction bat mortality study of the Wisconsin Power and Light Company’s Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County, conducted by the power company, showed that 50 bats are killed annually by each of the project’s 41 turbines — about 2,050 each year.
Similarly, reports show that the 88 turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County each kill an estimated 41 bats per year, which is a little more than 3,600 each year, according to the Wind Energy Center’s post-construction study.
Each turbine in the state kills about 41 bats each year, according to estimates compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“I can verify that bats are good natural predators of insects and definitely benefit agriculture,” said Mark Hagedorn, agricultural agent for the UW-Extension.
The largest known area for hibernating bats in Wisconsin is the Neda Mine State Natural Area in Dodge County, where a census found 143,000 bats, according to the DNR.
The construction of wind turbines in Brown County has been a controversial subject for years, but most of the complaints focused on the safety and health impact on humans. The impact on bats has not been part of the debate over wind turbine construction in Brown County.
Recently, Invenergy Inc. abandoned its plans to build a 100-turbine wind farm in four southern Brown County municipalities. The town of Glenmore last month approved permits for Cenergy to build eight turbines in the town.
BATS ON THE BRINK:
READ ENTIRE STORY AT THE SOURCE: WISCONSIN TRAILS
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
Three wind farms – Butler Ridge Wind Farm in the town of Herman, Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County and another near Byron – have gone up within miles of the hibernaculum, and preliminary data suggest the wind towers may be responsible for the deaths of migrating bats. “We’re seeing some of the highest fatality numbers in the U.S.,” Redell says.
A century ago, Neda was an iron town. Hardy miners worked deep beneath the earth’s surface, digging out precious iron ore with picks and shovels. Now the miners are just a memory, and the tunnels are dark and damp – but far from empty.
Each fall, the fluttering of wings breaks the still silence of the mine as thousands of bats migrate hundreds of miles to hibernate in the old mineshafts. Today, the old iron mine, located just south of Iron Ridge in Dodge County, is one of North America’s largest bat hibernacula.
“Most people don’t realize that Wisconsin is such an important area for hibernating bats,” says Dave Redell, a bat ecologist with the Bureau of Endangered Resources. More than 140,000 bats, including little brown bats, northern long-eared bats, eastern pipistrelle bats and big brown bats, hibernate at Neda each winter.
Why Neda? “The old mine is big enough to host a large number of bats,” Redell says, “and the four miles of underground tunnels provide perfect hibernating conditions.” Hibernating bats require stable temperatures (41 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal), high humidity, good airflow and a private, undisturbed place. Any disturbances can awaken hibernating bats, causing them to prematurely deplete the fat stores they need to make it through the winter.
But while Neda has provided a safe haven for bats for many years, ecologists such as Redell are worried about the bats’ survival. Three wind farms – Butler Ridge Wind Farm in the town of Herman, Cedar Ridge Wind Farm in Fond du Lac County and another near Byron – have gone up within miles of the hibernaculum, and preliminary data suggest the wind towers may be responsible for the deaths of migrating bats. “We’re seeing some of the highest fatality numbers in the U.S.,” Redell says.
A new and deadly disease also has begun attacking hibernating bats, mainly in the northeastern United States. White-nose syndrome, a disease unprecedented in its ability to kill, was first identified in New York State in 2006 and has already killed more than 1 million bats. “Scientists are seeing anywhere from 90 to 100% mortality at affected hibernacula,” Redell says. While the fungal disease has not yet arrived in Wisconsin, experts believe it’s just a matter of time. “White-nose syndrome spread over 500 miles this year,” Redell says. “It’s now about 250 miles from Wisconsin.”
Scientists such as Redell are working feverishly to learn as much as possible about the disease and the state’s bats in the little time they have left. “We know that bat-to-bat transmission occurs, and now we’re trying to see if the environment remains infected,” Redell says.
Nestled deep within the earth, the mines at Neda are a world apart. For years, bats have wintered in their depths, undisturbed. Now experts can only hope that the bats don’t go the way of the miners before them.
Jennifer L.W. Fink grew up hearing stories about the bats at Neda but didn’t visit the mines until 2000. She currently lives in Mayville.
ADVICE FROM A PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM:
READ THE ENTIRE SERIES AT THE SOURCE: NIMBY Wars: The Politics of Land Use.
Guide to Leadership, Effectiveness and Activities for Citizen Groups Pt 5
(by Robert J. Flavell. Flavell is vice chairman of The Saint Consulting Group and co-author of NIMBY Wars: The Politics of Land Use. This concludes the series begun last month)
Once the developer has identified natural supporters, outreach efforts will be needed to contact, recruit, and organize them. For that, you’ll need to find a citizen leader in the community, usually a natural supporter who has leadership abilities and feels strongly that the community needs the project.
It’s important that a local resident lead the citizen group to provide credibility and assure effectiveness. Clearly, the developer cannot manage the group, or its members will be branded as dupes and the group will lack credibility and influence.
An outsider won’t do to manage the group for much the same reason: lack of credibility and influence. Local residents will mistrust a stranger who suddenly appears in town just in time to accept leadership of the pro-development citizens group.
But a local resident who has longstanding community ties and legitimate personal reasons for supporting the project will be accepted at face value, and has the credibility to round up community support. The best way to find such a leader is to look among your natural supporters for a person with leadership skills who has the time and enthusiasm to do the job right.
You may well need to quietly fund the support group, but their expenses should be small—the cost of flyers and urns of coffee. Remember that a group seen as bought will also be seen as hirelings.
The group needs to appear independent of you and your company, which means that they may disagree with you on some points, or may have different ideas of what constitutes adequate mitigation. Taking their suggestions seriously and treating them with respect will win you points in the community.
Citizen Group Effectiveness and Activities
The effort to get a project approved and permitted organizes natural supporters to carry the issue, works to neutralize or marginalize opponents whose efforts can damage the chances of approval, and stresses the benefits to the community not through a public relations or marketing program but through the citizen advocates organized for the purpose.
Those advocates will express their support in their own words and from their own point of view, a much more effective approach than using a canned list of talking points.
Ardent supporters will also sway others who know and respect them—relatives, neighbors, co-workers, friends—will deter those who might have reservations about the project but don’t want to offend a neighbor or old friend, and can dissuade, neutralize or turn at least some opponents because they clearly speak from their own viewpoint and not as agents of the developer.
Make sure your group has a Web site and email address so that people tempted to support your project can easily join up.
Once it has a leader, the group can begin engaging in political support activities, forming coalitions with other groups, calling public officials to express support, writing letters to the editor, managing a website, starting a blog, printing flyers, and attending meetings and hearings, for example.
They can also hold fundraisers and seek donations to offset their expenses, and stage a site cleanup to dramatize the improvement your project will bring to the area. One particularly effective activity is the citizen petition drive, in which your group members collect signatures of local voters who favor the project, or at least are not opposed to it.
A stack of signed citizen petitions makes a nice prop for your lawyer to present to the licensing authority at the big hearing to bolster your claim of widespread public support.
8/23/10 PSC discusses wind siting rules today AND what do Maine and Wisconsin have in common? What happens when a state changes law to fast track wind development? Good bye local control.
WIND SITING TO BE DISCUSSED BY COMMISSIONERS AT TODAY'S OPEN MEETING AT THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN
Beginning at 11:30 Am
610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Live audio of the meeting will be broadcast over the web. CLICK HERE to visit the PSC website, click on the button on the left that says "Live Broadcast". Sometimes the meetings don't begin right on time. The broadcasts begin when the meetings do so keep checking back if you don't hear anything at the appointed start time.
At the last meeting Commissioner Lauren Azar recommended a setback of 2200 feet from homes unless a developer could prove that noise and shadow flicker standards could be met at a closer distance.
She also recommended a 40 decibel noise limit, in accordance with the World Health Organization's nighttime noise guidelines.
A call for a windpower moratorium
August 20, 2010
By Karen Bessey Pease
This law fast-tracks industrial wind development in the high terrain regions of Maine — by eliminating citizens’ automatic right to a public hearing, by removing our ability to object to development based on scenic impact, and by allowing what I consider to be state-sanctioned bribery (couched as “tangible benefits” and “mitigation”) by industrial wind developers of individuals and entities who might be impacted by massive wind turbines on our iconic ridges. LD 2283 can be read in its entirety at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_123rd/billtexts/SP090801.asp
I live in Lexington Township, which stands to be greatly impacted by LD 2283. Former Gov. Angus King and Rob Gardiner of Brunswick’s Independence Wind have submitted a permit application — to be reviewed under this new law — for a 48-turbine development at the gateway to the Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail.
Local residents have also heard of plans to continue the line of industrial wind down through Lexington to Brighton, Mayfield, and beyond. In order to meet Gov. John Baldacci’s goal of 2,700 megawatts of land-based wind power by 2020, another 300 miles of Maine’s mountains will be sacrificed, as well.
Maine citizens weren’t consulted before this misguided and biased law was enacted. As an “emergency measure” we didn’t have time to make our objections known before it was implemented. What is now apparent is that the wind industry hugely influenced the crafting of this law.
In a letter from Rob Gardiner to Alec Giffen, chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, Gardiner lists his recommendations for how to write a law which would give wind developers the advantage over Maine citizens, forestalling their objections to wind developments.
Gardiner states: “In my opinion, the biggest sticking point is visual impact. Under the standard of ‘fitting harmoniously into the environment,’ wind is at a serious disadvantage. Because it involves 250-foot high structures that are usually on high ridges, the visual impacts are significant.” (Gardiner’s own permit application states that the turbines destined for Highland stand more than 400 feet tall, creating a more serious “disadvantage” — and those visual impacts will be far, far more significant.)
“An immediate executive order followed by legislation that specifically removes the presumption of negative visual impact from wind farms would go a long way toward setting the stage for balanced regulatory review.”
“A second element of such executive order and legislation should be to declare that reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is a public benefit, and that wind farms can make a significant contribution toward a more sensible energy mix for Maine. Therefore, any regulatory agency should accept these positions and not waste time receiving further evidence and debating them. To the extent that regulators are charged with balancing the benefits of any project against the negative impacts, these beneficial aspects should be ‘a given’ for wind farms.”
Further directions given to Giffen: “…wind farms ought not to be expected to help purchase conservation lands or do other types of mitigation. Wind farms ARE mitigation for our energy consumption habits and for the impacts of fossil fuel consumption.”
“I understand that preserving Maine’s ‘quality of place’ is an important goal for your task force. I fully accept that having wind farms everywhere might ruin that quality.”
“I recognize that LURC feels overwhelmed … This may need attention, but it is a short-term phenomenon. Don’t change the rules, provide the necessary resources. The Governor can do that ... But creating a new agency or shifting responsibilities will, in actuality, make it harder for developers.” (Gardiner’s entire letter can be read at http://highlandmts.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/comments_rob_gardiner_120607.pdf)
Impartial experts are speaking out about the negligible ecological benefits of industrial wind. After two decades of experimentation around the globe, there’s been no significant reduction in carbon emissions. Electrical consumption is constant, but wind is undependable and intermittent; therefore, conventional electrical generators must be kept online to take up the slack when the wind doesn’t blow. Because of the extremely inefficient combustion from the modulating in-fill of natural gas backup for wind plants, it’s possible that we may actually be increasing overall fossil fuel use.
The wind industry has repeatedly told us that wind will get Maine off “foreign oil.” However, Maine does not use oil to generate electricity, but rather to heat our homes and power our automobiles — two applications that even John Kerry and Phil Bartlett acknowledge aren’t addressed by wind power.
To say that we’ll reduce our dependence on oil if we install wind turbines across Maine is misleading.
Ms. Schalit’s fact-based series is a wake-up call. In light of these revelations, Maine citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by this legislation are requesting an immediate moratorium on wind plant construction and a careful reexamination of LD 2283 by our Legislature.
Karen Bessey Pease lives in Lexington Township.
8/22/10 What to expect when you're expecting wind farm construction AND what do wind tubines sound like?
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
Click on the image below to hear the noise from a wind turbine 1100 feet from a home in the Invenergy Forward wind project in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Because of the noise, this home is now for sale.
At an open meeting held Thursday at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, commissioners discussed the the text of the proposed wind siting rule.
Commissioner Lauren Azar suggested a setback of 2200 feet from homes unless a developer can prove a turbine could be sited closer to a residence and still meet noise and shadow flicker standards.
She said the setback distance was based on information from PSC staff which indicated a 45dbA noise standard would be met at that distance.
However, Commissioner Azar also noted that the World Health Organization recommends 40 dbA as a nighttime noise standard, and indicated was the noise limit she preferred.
Residents under contract with developers could waive all standards and have turbines placed as close as 1.1 times the turbine height to their homes.
Chairman Callisto and Commissioner Meyer didn't offer their immediate opinions on Azar's suggestions.
Continued discussion of wind siting rules is scheduled for Monday.