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Proposed Wind Energy Development in and Around Lake Erie: The Need to Proactively Engage for Wildlife and Habitat Lake Erie Millennium Network Conference March 1, 2006 University of Windsor Rich Greenwood, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Liaison to U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office

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Proposed Wind Energy Developmentin and Around Lake Erie:The Need to Proactively Engage for Wildlife and Habitat

Lake Erie Millennium Network Conference

March 1, 2006

University of Windsor

Rich Greenwood, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Liaison to U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office

Team Leader Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team

presentation overview
Presentation Overview

What is the emerging issue?

What are the needs to address the issue?

How can the needs be addressed?

what is the issue

Dramatic Growth of Wind Energy Proposals in and Around Lake Erie

The Need to Proactively Engage in Wind Energy to Determine How to Minimize Impacts to Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat

what is driving the increase in proposed lake erie wind energy projects
What is driving the increase in proposed Lake Erie wind energy projects?
  • Technology is advancing rapidly
  • Costs of equipment are dropping
  • Incentives provided for development of alternative energy sources (set to expire in 2007)
  • The prevalence of high wind energy areas
  • Western basin shallowness makes offshore development more feasible from technological and cost standpoints
why is lake erie prime for consideration
Why is Lake Erie prime for consideration?
  • Wind Resource Areas
  • Shallowest Great Lake – costs increase with depth
  • Close to major markets
  • Transmission available
There are Documented Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Impacts from Wind Energy ProjectsIncluding direct mortality to birds and bats
lake erie wind energy farms are being proposed in areas of high risk to wildlife
Lake Erie Wind Energy FarmsAre Being Proposed In Areas of High Risk to Wildlife


  • Ridge Lines along Eastern Basin Coastline – Area of Significance to Raptor Migration & highest spring nocturnal passerine migration rates documented in North America
  • Coastal Habitat/Wetlands - adjacent to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
  • Western Lake Erie Islands
  • Offshore in the Western Basin
types of potential impacts to wildlife
  • Habitat loss – “foot print”
  • Displacement
  • Barrier effects
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Collision mortality
  • Cumulative impacts - each of the above together, and with other projects
potential wildlife resource concerns for terrestrial wind projects
Potential Wildlife Resource Concernsfor Terrestrial Wind Projects
  • Direct Effects
    • Mortality
    • Habitat loss/modification
    • Interior forest loss
    • Habitat fragmentation
  • Indirect Effects
    • Reduced nesting density
    • Habitat abandonment
    • Loss of refugia
    • Attraction to modified habitat
  • CumulativeEffects

Echo location does not seem to help bats avoid colliding with wind turbines. For many bats, the maximum useful distance for detecting insects is about 12 ft. Since turbine blade tip speed can be 180 mph or higher, for a bat at close range there is not much time to react.

world record kill continues unabated
World Record Kill Continues - Unabated
  • World’s largest kill of wildlife by wind turbines was discovered in 2003 during the first year of operation of the Mountaineer project in West Virginia.
  • Between 1,400 and 4,000 bats are estimated to be killed each year - a rate of 47.5 per turbine.
  • This contrasts with previous estimates of <2 bats killed per turbine, particularly in the West.
  • Owner: Florida Power and Light

Developer: Atlantic Renewable (now PPM)

Consultant: Curry and Kerlinger

foot print wind power plants require a lot of area
Foot Print: Wind Power PlantsRequire a Lot of Area
  • 2,000 turbines = ~ 250 miles of ridge line
  • 10,000turbines = ~1250 miles of ridge line
habitat fragmentation what awea says

Habitat Fragmentation: what AWEA says

“Wind energy can negatively impact birds and other wildlife by fragmenting habitat, both through installation and operation of wind turbines themselves and through the roads and power lines that may be needed. This has been raised as an issue in areas with unbroken stretches of prairie grassland or of forests. More research is needed to better understand these impacts.”

(See: Frequently Asked Questions, American Wind

Energy Association’s web site.)

potential offshore environmental concerns
Potential Offshore Environmental Concerns
  • Lake Ice
  • Vessel traffic
  • Port Availability
  • Fisheries
  • Migratory Birds/Bats
  • Benthos
  • Staging and Construction Effects
  • Sediment Structure
  • Noise/Vibrations
  • Hydrology
  • Transmission lines/Grid connections
  • Submerged cables
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Logistics
  • View shed
  • Coastal Effects
  • Lake ecosystem
  • Navigation safety
  • Air Traffic Safety
  • Archaeology
  • Cumulative
larger turbines predicted
Larger Turbines Predicted
  • GEis predicting that 5-7 MW turbines with 120-160 m rotor diameters may soon be available ("next generation").
  • Also, 20 MW turbines with 200 m rotor diameters are a future possibility (rising 700 or 800 feet above water).

Turbine Blade

Mountaineer Wind Energy Plant

West Virginia



Mountaineer Wind Energy Plant

Allegheny Plateau, West Virginia

NEG Micon NM72C Wind Turbines

44 1.5 megawatt turbines generate

66 megawatts of electricity.

Hub height 228 feet

Blade length 115 feet

what are the needs and approaches to engage to minimize wildlife impact
What are the Needs and Approaches to Engage to Minimize Wildlife Impact?

Regulating Wind Power:

Largely responsibility of state (provincial ?) & local governments

U.S. Federal Government has a minimal regulatory role, unless federal funding or lands used: Kicks in NEPA, CWA

However regulatory agency officials often lack experience or expertise to address the environmental and wildlife impacts

what are the needs and approaches to engage to minimize wildlife impact23
What are the Needs and Approaches to Engage to Minimize Wildlife Impact?

State – provincial and federal laws afford generalized protections to wildlife from wind power

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is primary agency tasked with implementing wildlife-wind power protections in U.S., three federal laws:

Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act

Endangered Species Act

what are the needs to engage and minimize wildlife impact
What Are the Needs to Engage and Minimize Wildlife Impact?

Provide state, provincial, and local regulatory agencies, resource managers, and the industry the resource information to assist good, sustainable decisions:

Which could include:

Mapping Areas of Low Risk to Wildlife – determine, gather and make available geospacial data/data layers

what are the needs to advance the dialogue make progress
What Are the Needs to Advance the Dialogue & Make Progress?

Collaborate to identify and develop consensus for what are the Priority Research & Information Needs

Determining, Analysis, and Addressing Gaps of the State of the Guidance – address how to provide adequate guidelines that are consistent (“no surprises”) based on good science

Including for: siting, Pre- and Post Construction Monitoring, BMPs, BATs, and other Assessment Recommendations & Protocols

Identify Who’s Doing What With Wind: Develop Support/Expertise

& Communication/Coordination Networks

addressing the issue
Addressing The Issue

The way forward . . .

Toward Wildlife-Friendly Wind PowerWith a Focus on Lake Erie and the Great Lakes Basin

glbet wildlife and wind energy initiative


Shedd Aquarium Chicago

“ … is anyone … working with wind energy?”

Bob Russell – Great Lakes Migratory Birds Team Update


New GLBET Collaborative Wildlife and Wind Energy Aroundthe Great Lakes – Understanding Fish and Wildlife Impacts of Land-based and Offshore Wind Development: Approach, Tools, Techniques for Making Informed Decisions

Foster a better understanding of the needs and concerns, suggest a consistent approach in addressing wind development, and solicit feedback from key resource specialists – including leading scientists, managers, regulators, industry representatives, conservationists, and the public.

  • Develop in partnership a resource tool box to address wildlife/wind issues
  • Prepare for and facilitate a conference in the Lake Erie Basin
  • Refine and add to toolbox based on conference & other coordination efforts
  • Identify next steps post-conference, along with a “call to action”
wildlife wind energy tool box
Wildlife & Wind Energy Tool Box
  • Information showing areas of low risk to wildlife and their habitats which then can be overlaid onto the wind potential maps
  • Summary/status of wildlife impacts-Issues of concern
  • Priority Research and information needs identified collaboratively
  • Evaluation, summary, and recommendations for using new technologies, and data sources useful for assessment purposes (i.e., NOAA-DOI NEXRAD MOA)
  • Summary of pre- and post- Construction Guidance, Monitoring and Assessment Needs (Need help with Canadian Sources)
  • Coordination and Communication Tools Regarding Wildlife-Wind Energy: “Who’s Who in Wind & Wildlife”, Fact Sheets on Various Wind Energy and Wildlife Related Topics, and a Wildlife-Wind Resources Web Site Repository
toward wildlife friendly wind power a focus on the great lakes basin

Toward Wildlife-Friendly Wind Power:A Focus on the Great Lakes Basin

Who should attend?

•Local, state, provincial, federal and tribal agencies

•Nongovernment organizations

•Researchers studying fish and wildlife issues

•Wind energy industry

Conference sessions will focus on:

•Communicating information about potential wildlife concerns of wind power generation

•Sharing resources available to help make informed decisions about where wind power facilities should be located

•Advancing knowledge of land-based and offshore wind and wildlife, including impacts to wildlife, tools and techniques, risk and impact assessment, laws and regulations, siting protocols, and monitoring

•Developing consistent research and management approaches for resource managers, regulators, scientists, decision makers, the wind energy industry, conservationists, elected officials and other stakeholders

Toledo, Ohio

June 27-29, 2006

Organized by:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office

Illinois Natural History Survey

U.S. Geological Survey

Registration information, agenda and conference updates will be online at:

next steps
Next Steps:

Outreach – Communication Coordination for Tool Box Products – Conference Expected Outcomes: Mid-March through June

Conference – June 27-29: Toledo, Ohio

Post-Conference Follow-up for Tool Box Products

Implement Collaborative “Call to Action”

toward wildlife friendly wind power allowing for
Toward Wildlife Friendly Wind Power – allowing for:
  • Conservation of wildlife that is in the public trust - for the enjoyment of people now and in the future.
  • Development of renewable energy, including from wind, that is friendly to birds, bats, other wildlife.
  • Informed decisions based on adequate environmental assessment, including:
    • use of the affected air space by birds and bats over time,
    • impacts to wildlife - direct, indirect, and cumulative.

Adequate, credible information is needed for siting decisions.

this collaboration is supportive of
This collaboration is supportive of…

Great Lakes Regional Collaborative

Species/Habitat and Sustainability Priorities

SOLEC – providing good information for good decision making

Lake Erie LaMP – Ecosystem Objectives

GAO Charge to Assist States for Wind Power to Protect Wildlife


Toward Wildlife Friendly Wind Power:A Focus on the Great Lakes Coordination/CommunicationEmail List:

Special Thanks To…

Great Lakes National Program Office

Gary Gulezian - Director

Karen Rodriguez – Habitat Program

Dan O’Riordan – Lake Erie Program

GLNPO-GLBET Action Work Group

Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team Partners

Alex Hoar – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Lake Erie Millennium Network Conference Organizers