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Duke Energy shuts wind farm at night to avoid bat deaths

Duke Energy Renewables has stopped running its 70-megawatt North Allegheny Wind Farm in Pennsylvania at night after a bat from an endangered species was found dead on the farm last month.

Spokesman Greg Efthimiou says the company will continue to switch off the farm a half hour before sunset and a half hour after sunrise until mid-November. That is when the migration season of the endangered Indiana bat generally ends.

In the meantime, he says, the company is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine what long-term measures Duke can take to prevent additional bat deaths.

Efthimiou says the bat carcass was found Sept. 26 on the 35-turbine farm, which straddles Cambria and Blair counties.

He says Duke voluntarily checks the site daily for evidence of wildlife that may have been killed by the turbines. “The farm is walked every day as an environmental check,” he says.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Duke ceased night operations immediately after finding the carcass. It reported the dead bat to the service the next morning. The service examined the carcass and determined it was an Indiana bat.

There are only an estimated 387,000 Indiana bats living in the eastern United States, the service says.

Efthimiou says the company is currently losing power production time by turning the turbines off at night, but he calls it “the price of doing the right thing.”