The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Green Mountain Power (GMP) have agreed on a plan through which the utility will minimize the incidental taking of endangered bats at its 63 MW Kingdom Community Wind plant, as well as provide $18,438 annually to bolster Vermont's bat conservation efforts.
These terms were part of a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Vermont agency last month, which helped GMP procure an Endangered Species Permit to continue operating its 21-turbine wind energy facility. The Kingdom Community Wind project, located in the town of Lowell, came online in December 2012.
GMP first received authorization to operate the Lowell wind facility in 2011, but it came with an order from the agency to monitor and reduce bat fatalities and instructions to avoid killing state endangered bats. Since that time, three additional species of bats – the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat and the tri-colored bat – have been added to the state's endangered species list.
In the MOU, GMP agreed to provide primary funding for the Bat Maternity Colony Technical Assistance Program administered by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. The program works to reduce bat mortality from other human causes by addressing homeowners' concerns about bats in their houses. According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the increase in bats saved through this program is expected to far exceed the number taken by turbines at the Lowell facility. To date, no endangered bats have been found harmed during this year's monitoring at the facility, the agency adds.
"All forms of energy development impact wildlife," says Scott Darling, bat biologist for the Fish & Wildlife Department. "This one measure that GMP is undertaking has the real possibility to lower the impact on endangered bats."Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Dorothy Schnure, a GMP spokesperson, adds that the utility is happy to work with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and protect the state's bat population.
As a condition of the 2011 permit proceedings, GMP voluntarily agreed to curtail turbine activity during the summer to reduce collisions with migratory bats. The agency says this measure will substantially reduce mortalities of all bat species.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â