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Wind power at what cost?

Editor of the Reformer:

Tristan Roberts was correct in describing the dilemma faced in supporting wind-generated electricity (“Wind energy bad for bears,” Sept. 6). Wind generation is certainly by far the better option than coal generation, and overall somewhat preferable to solar, hydro, or nuclear generation. On the other hand, it is in no way better than cutting back on our increasingly insatiable demand for electricity.

Roberts stresses disruption of still pristine habitat resulting from the need to build access roads and turbine sites, dwelling especially on the impact of such disruption on black bears.

However, what he overlooks is the huge numbers of migrating birds that are killed by the rotating blades of wind turbines now in operation, and the less appreciated but even far higher numbers of bats being similarly killed – indeed, nationally already many tens of thousands per year. The precipitous declines in our insectivorous bat numbers are thus not only the result of the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome, but on top of that of the even higher numbers of turbine deaths. Included, of course, is the Indiana Bat, now listed as being “Endangered” both by Vermont and the federal government.

Those bat losses resulting from the wind generation of electricity are a tragedy unto themselves. Additionally, it seems not to be widely recognized that bats are probably the most overlooked economically important non-domesticated animals in our country. Thus their increasingly staggering losses are a detriment to agriculture owing to their importance in consuming pest insects. In fact, one recent estimate has turbine-caused bat mortality already costing our nation’s farmers many millions of dollars annually.

Arthur H. Westing,

Putney, Sept. 6