The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish a notice in the March 13 edition of the Federal Register seeking volunteers to serve on a committee that will offer guidance to the agency on the effects of wind energy on wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Nicholas Throckmorton said that he expects the committee to be formed by summer or early fall 2007.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is looking, specifically, for experts on bird, bat and bat interactions, as well as habitat issues associated with wind turbines,” Throckmorton told SNL Energy. “We are looking for around 20 volunteers from state, tribal and federal agencies on both the wildlife and wind turbine design side … as well as wind turbine businesses, engineers, site selectors, etc.”
Throckmorton said one of the main thrusts of the committee will be to identify the big issues facing the siting of wind turbines.
The Fish and Wildlife Service issued draft interim voluntary guidelines in July 2003 that were not popular with the wind industry.
Laurie Jodziewicz, a communications and policy specialist on siting and wildlife issues for the American Wind Energy Association, said the agency lacked input from all sides of the issue and as a result, the agency lacked the insight into everything that goes into developing a wind project.
“We found that they were quite flawed … they were developed without any input from industry and from other stakeholders,” Jodziewicz told SNL. “So what resulted were guidelines that did not apply to most projects or suggested such stringent restrictions as to make many projects unworkable.”
One such guideline was to keep turbines off ridgelines, Jodziewicz said. “In most places in the country, wind projects need to be located where the wind is and that’s generally the higher places,” she noted. “So saying things like avoiding ridgelines does not really work for the industry in a way that you could develop any wind projects.”
Throckmorton said the committee will likely stay together for about two years and will pass its recommendations on to the Secretary of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service and they will make the ultimate decisions about any updates to the voluntary guidelines. The agencies could also decide to institute regulations rather than guidelines.
Jodziewicz said AWEA advocates are staying away from a one-size-fits-all set of guidelines so projects can be tailored to the needs of a specific state or region.
She also noted that involving everyone in the process is a good way to come up with sound guidelines. “We do support working with the Fish and Wildlife Service in this effort and with these other stakeholders,” Jodziewicz said. “We do think it’s hard to judge what will come out of this process in the end, but we’re very encouraged that bringing all the stakeholders together is definitely the right way to start.”
By Mark Lindsay
12 March 2007
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