Twelve of 13 major wind-energy development companies operating in the state have agreed to sign what yesterday were termed “model” voluntary wildlife-protection agreements.
The agreements were signed with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which is charged with protecting all birds and mammals in Pennsylvania.
Under the agreements, wind developers must notify the Game Commission 14 months prior to beginning construction. Bill Capouillez, who shepherded the wind-wildlife collaborative for the commission, said the agreements take effect today and have already led wind developers to reveal where they hope to build.
“We’ve seen over 40,000 acres of project areas,” he said. “I was shocked – 40,000 acres we hadn’t known of before.”
Under terms of the agreements, the locations where developers hope to put wind farms must be kept confidential by the Game Commission.
The commission began a collaborative effort with the industry, other state agencies and environmental groups to draw up the agreements 18 months ago.
“The energy industry has not always been the kindest it could be to our natural resources,” said Carl G. Roe, executive director of the Game Commission, at a signing ceremony yesterday with industry representatives. “We’re proud of our role in this.”
Wind companies that sign the agreements commit to specific measures to test potential wind-turbine sites for impact on wildlife, especially birds and bats. The agreements call for a certain level of testing before and after construction, with additional provisions if endangered species are discovered.
Michael DiBeradinis, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, called the agreements, “if not a national model, a model for the eastern half of the country.”
The 12 companies who signed the agreements were: AES Headwaters Wind, of Arlington, Va.; AES Keystone Wind, of Arlington, Va.; Airtricity Inc., of Austin, Texas; CPV Wind County Line, of Braintree, Mass.; Energy Unlimited Inc., of West Conshohocken; Freedom Wind Energy, of White Oak; Gamesa Energy USA, of Philadelphia; Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA, of Radnor; PPM Atlantic Renewable, of Washington, D.C.; ReEnergy, of Arnold, Md.; UPC Wind Management, of Newton, Mass.; and US Wind Force, of Wexford.
Only FPL Energy, a division of Florida Power & Light, did not sign the agreement. “We don’t believe it is relevant to us because we don’t have any projects in late stage development or under construction,” he said.
By David DeKok
Of The Patriot-News
19 April 2007
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