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Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee Recommendations  

Author:  | Aesthetics, Environment, Health, Noise, Regulations, Siting, U.S., Wildlife

The Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee) was established in 2007 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) on developing effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats related to land-based wind energy projects. The USFWS chairs the Committee, which includes 22 members representing governments, wildlife conservation organizations, and the wind industry.

This Committee’s recommendations to the Secretary (Guidelines) contain the Committee’s advice regarding policy issues, as well as science-based technical advice on how best to assess and prevent adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats while allowing for the development of the Nation’s wind energy resources. …

The Committee’s Guidelines are founded upon a “tiered approach” for assessing potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats. The tiered approach is an iterative decision-making process for collecting information in increasing detail, quantifying the possible risks of proposed wind energy projects to wildlife and habitats, and evaluating those risks to make siting, construction, and operation decisions. Subsequent tiers refine and build upon issues raised and efforts undertaken in previous tiers. At each tier, a set of questions is provided to help the developer identify potential problems associated with each phase of a project, and to guide its decision process. The tiered approach is designed to assess the risks of project development by formulating questions that relate to site-specific conditions regarding potential species and habitat impacts. The tiers are outlined briefly as:

  • Tier 1 – Preliminary evaluation or screening of sites (landscape-level screening of possible project sites)
  • Tier 2 – Site characterization (broad characterization of one or more potential project sites)
  • Tier 3 – Field studies to document site wildlife conditions and predict project impacts (site-specific assessments at the proposed project site)
  • Tier 4 – Post-construction fatality studies (to evaluate direct fatality impacts)
  • Tier 5 – Other post-construction studies (to evaluate direct and indirect effects of adverse habitat impacts, and assess how they may be addressed) …

The Guidelines provide best-available methods and metrics to help answer the questions posed at each tier. The Committee recognizes that substantial variability exists among project sites and recommends methods and metrics that should be applied with the flexibility to address the varied issues that may occur on a site-by-site basis, while maintaining consistency in the overall tiered process. As research expands and provides new information, these methods and metrics will be updated to reflect current science.

Other elements in the Guidelines include a full discussion of mitigation policies and principles; the applicability of adaptive management, including the potential use of operational modifications; and considerations related to cumulative impacts, habitat fragmentation, and landscape-level analysis. Finally, the Guidelines discuss the need for additional research and collaboration related to potential wind energy–wildlife impacts, and offer some alternatives for accomplishing the needed research.

Download original document: “Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee Recommendations

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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