Study Shows that Wind-Energy should not be placed within 10 miles of the Great Lakes.
Bats Also at Risk, New Radar Study Says.
(Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2016)
A radar study released last month by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) provides stark evidence that wind turbines on the Great Lakes pose an unacceptably high risk to migratory birds and other wildlife. Yet this region in New York has been targeted for enormous wind energy projects, including the proposed Lighthouse Wind facility—one of the nation’s 10 worst for birds, according to our recent report.
“This study is the smoking gun in the argument against installing wind energy so close to the lakeshore,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program. “If risk to birds means anything to our elected leaders, this should be the death knell to projects like Lighthouse, which is currently under serious consideration by New York’s Public Service Commission.”
“The study provides fresh and compelling evidence that wind-energy development does not belong on the shores of the Great Lakes, as ABC, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and other conservation groups have argued,” said Hutchins. “It confirms what we have long known: In the absence of proven methods to reduce bird collisions with turbines, wind-energy development must be sited in areas where there are fewer birds and bats to minimize harm to these ecologically important animals.”
As the study notes, “Migrants are flying at altitudes that place them at risk of collision with current or future wind energy development in the area. The importance of shoreline areas, as revealed by our study, highlights the need to avoid these migration corridors as recommended in the Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines.”
The FWS currently recommends that no wind turbines be built within three miles of the Great Lakes’ shorelines, while The Nature Conservancy recommends five miles. However, this new radar study suggests that the minimum should be extended even farther, perhaps as far as 10 miles. Unfortunately, the wind industry is eager to build in these sensitive areas.
“We must keep wind and solar projects out of important and sensitive habitats for wildlife. We’re not doing a very good job of this now, but with improved regulation and science, leading to proper siting and mitigation, we could make wind energy ‘bird-smart’ energy too.” said Hutchins.