US issues wildlife protection guidelines for wind developers

The US Interior Department has released guidelines designed to help wind energy project developers avoid and minimize impacts of land-based wind projects on wildlife and their habitats.

The voluntary guidelines will help shape intelligent siting, design and operation of the nation’s growing wind energy economy, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. They were developed through an intensive public process with significant help from the wind energy industry, state agencies, and wildlife conservation groups.

“We’re committed to working with developers to ensure that wind energy projects are built in the right places and operated in the right way,” he says, adding that the guidelines are “designed to achieve the best outcome for wildlife and wind energy development.”

Using a tiered approach, they provide a structured, scientific process for developers, federal and state agencies, and tribes to identify sites with low risk to wildlife. The guidelines will also help them assess, mitigate, and monitor any adverse effects of wind energy projects on wildlife and their habitats.

Salazar says they are designed to be used for all utility-scale, community-scale and distributed land-based wind energy projects on both private and public lands.

“The guidelines outline a consistent and predictable approach to wind energy development while also providing flexibility to developers in recognition of the unique circumstances of each project,” he adds.

They replace voluntary interim guidelines issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003. They are the result of a five-year process that included multiple opportunities for public review and comment.

One leading conservationist group praised the measure.

“We know America needs more renewable energy and wind power is a key player in that mix. But conservationists can’t have it both ways: we can’t say we need renewable energy and then say there’s nowhere safe to put the wind farms,” says National Audubon Society President David Yarnold.

A copy of the guidelines can be found here :.