On Sept. 27, Duke Energy Corp. notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that a dead Indiana bat had been found at its 35-turbine, North Allegheny wind facility. The wind farm, located in Cambria and Blair counties in Pennsylvania, has been in operation since September 2009, and the bat carcass was located during voluntary post-construction mortality monitoring.
The bat carcass was discovered by a contracted technician on Sept. 26 and was brought to the office at the end of the day per Duke standard monitoring protocol. Later that day, it was determined that the bat was an Indiana bat, a state and federally listed endangered species.
Duke immediately curtailed nighttime operations of the turbines at the North Allegheny facility and reported the incident to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the FWS, which says it is currently reviewing the incident and will work with Duke to identify an approach to reduce the risk of additional bat fatalities.
Since the discovery of the dead Indiana bat, Duke has not operated the wind farm at night – the company curtails the North Allegheny project beginning roughly 30 minutes before dusk until 30 minutes after dawn.
‘Upon discovery of the bat carcass as part of our voluntary daily environmental monitoring, we dispatched a certified Indiana bat expert to the site,’ company spokesperson Greg Efthimiou told NAW. ‘The expert made the confirmation that same day, at which point we made the decision to stop operating the site at night."
Efthimiou said no decision has been reached regarding the duration of the curtailment.
‘We're working closely with the FWS to determine near- and long-term mitigation measures to help avoid future potential impacts to Indiana bats in the area.’
According to the FWS, the end of the migratory bat season is mid-November.
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service