U.S. Gov. Dept Releases Wind Energy Guidance

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently published in the Federal Register voluntary interim guidelines to help energy companies avoid and minimize wildlife impacts from wind turbines. These guidelines are intended to help energy companies locate and design wind energy facilities to ensure protection of wildlife resources, while streamlining the site selection and facility design process to avoid unanticipated conflicts after the construction of wind facilities.

Washington D.C. – September 3, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The USFWS guidelines focus on three key areas: 1) the proper evaluation and selection of potential wind energy development sites; 2) the proper location and design of turbines and associated structures within sites selected for development; and 3) research and monitoring to identify and assess impacts to wildlife. The guidance is intended for land-based wind turbines and wind farms on all Federal, State, and private lands within the United States. The USFWS encourages the immediate use of the guidelines by the wind energy industry and has solicited further comments on guideline effectiveness. The guidelines will be evaluated over a two-year period, and then modified as necessary. Changes will be based on their performance in the field and on the latest scientific and technical discoveries developed in coordination with industry, states, academic researchers, other federal agencies and the public. Examples included in the guidelines include: avoiding the placement of turbines in documented locations of any species protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act (“FESA”); avoiding fragmentation of large, contiguous tracts habitat; using tubular supports with pointed tops to minimize bird perching; and avoiding solid red or pulsating red incandescent lights as they appear to attract night-migrating birds. The Department of the Interior (“DOI”) has been separately re-evaluating its existing renewable energy programs on its lands under DOI management. It is also assessing current limitations on industry access to Federal lands. These actions are intended to both increase the DOI’s use of renewable energy and to assist industry in increasing renewable energy production, in an environmentally friendly manner, on Department-managed lands. Development of wind energy is a significant component of this DOI initiative. Commercial wind energy facilities have been constructed in 29 states, with developments planned for several other states, as well as coastal and offshore areas. As more facilities with larger wind turbines are built, the cumulative effects of this growing industry could potentially contribute to the decline of some wildlife populations according to the USFWS. The potential harm to these populations makes careful evaluation of proposed wind facilities essential. The guidelines will also assist all DOI-related agencies in providing technical assistance to the wind energy industry. The guidelines may be directly accessed on the USFWS web site at the link below.
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