Beech Ridge Energy, LLC (BRE) recently submitted their 2012 Post-construction Carcass Monitoring Study for the Beech Ridge Wind Farm, prepared by Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc., in response to requirements of the Public Service Commission and the U.S. District Court. They reported an adjusted annual fatality estimate for bats during the 2012 study of 3.04 (90% CI = 1.89, 7.44) fatalities/turbine/year. The adjusted annual fatality estimate for all birds was 1.79 (90% CI = 1.46, 2.24) fatalities/turbine/year.
It was discovered some years that the high bat mortality at Appalachian ridge top wind turbine installations correlates with certain meteorological conditions and could apparently be mitigated by curtailing operation at sufficiently low wind speeds, an opportunity for “adaptive management “ This report bears this out. It says “The turbine operational protocols implemented during the 2012 monitoring period resulted in bat mortality far below the regional average bat mortality recorded at other wind generation facilities. BRE modified turbine operational protocols so that turbine blades were fully feathered below wind speeds of 6.9 m/s (15.2 mph) from 1/2 hour before sunset to 1,2 hour after sunrise” and that “The bat fatality rate at the Project was approximately 89% less than the average for other annualized West Virginia projects.” A similar comparison between Beech Ridge and the Northeastern region showed a mortality reduction of 73%.
The Highlands Conservancy was involved in this welcome development. In 2006, the Wind Energy Committee advocated such adaptive management to Beech Ridge Energy management as possible grounds for reducing opposition to Beech Ridge Energy’s project. At a contentious spring 2006 Board meeting, however, their effort was rejected by the Conservancy Board, who did not wish to compromise. However, adaptive management happened anyway, with the positive 2012 result.
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