Wind energy could be a good, green energy source, but requirements are needed to protect wildlife, said Bob Johns, with the American Bird Conservancy.
As it is, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that wind turbines in 2009 killed about 44,000 birds, and government’s goal is for wind energy to increase twelvefold by 2030, he said.
A corresponding increase in bird deaths “would be horrific,” he said. Bats also are killed by turbines, whose blades tip-to-tip can be the length of a football field.
The bird conservation group has advocated for years to require wind farms to take measures to reduce bird deaths, including restrictions on lighting that can draw birds to their deaths and planning that locates the facilities away from habitats that attract birds, such as wetlands.
The federal government is considering guidelines that are expected to be issued this year, but they would be voluntary.
Johns compares the situation to lax environmental rules years ago when many hydroelectric dams and coal plants were built.
“It’s ridiculous,” Johns said. “They should have standards they have to follow like other industries.”
Jimmy Glotfelty, executive vice president of Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, in Houston, said his company expects wind farm developers to be sensitive to wildlife. Clean Line itself has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups to see that its facilities avoid or minimize impacts to areas, for instance, with lesser prairie chickens and whooping cranes.
“We work to share information with wind developers and provide tools and reasons to be responsible,” he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding