Wind and Wildlife Collaborate

Thu, 2012-07-05 17:01

As energy independence remains at the center of the national energy debate, many strategies are being considered in the pursuit of cleaner, less expensive energy sources. Many times renewable energy project developers and environmentalists end up on opposite sides of a debate when it comes to wildlife, although their goals are aligned in terms of preserving the environment. Clean energy projects intended to create environmental benefits are often halted due to protests and concerns over wildlife and habitat.

Bird Flying Among Wind TurbinesIn an effort to address the challenges of development, and minimize consequences, wind developers are collaborating with environmental and wildlife experts to achieve progress in a responsible way. Wind power is poised to play a key role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, with minimal impact to wildlife and their habitats.

Higher Standards

In May of this year, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced their support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Wind Energy Guidelines. The guidelines are the result of a 5-year collaboration among the wind industry, Native American tribes, wildlife conservation organizations, and federal and state regulators. By supporting and following the guidelines, the wind industry agrees to be held to a higher standard when it comes to developing, avoiding, and minimizing wildlife impacts.

Smart From the Start

Colorado and New Mexico are the first states to establish and disseminate best management practices for wind development through a collaborative process among wind energy companies, wildlife experts, and state agencies. The best practices are intended to guide placement of wind facilities and transmission infrastructure so as to avoid or minimize impact on wildlife. Adherence to best practices is not mandatory, but developers are motivated to follow the guidelines, which have potential for expediting the development process and contributing to the overall success of the project.

In an article in the New Mexico Business Weekly, Craig Cox, with the Interwest Energy Alliance, said that he believes wind energy can provide an important economic boost. “Now that we have Colorado and New Mexico using this collaborative model of developing best management practices, we will be able to expedite wind energy development while creating new jobs across both states,” he said.

A Sustainable Future

At a time when there seems to be so much polarization in U.S. politics, wind power offers a refreshing glimpse into successful collaboration for the greater good. Implementation of wildlife conservation strategies allows wind power to simultaneously promote progress and conservation. Through collaboration, wind power has invested in its own future. A proactive approach to wildlife in wind development offers tremendous potential for humans and nature to exist in productive harmony, while conserving for future generations. That’s sustainability, and wind gets it.

If you are interested in learning more about siting, installing, and maintaining wind energy equipment, and want to pursue a career in wind energy, visit Everblue’s Wind Energy Training for more information.

By Amy Malloy

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