Forty organizations representing the U.S. wind energy industry have united to write to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in support of new federal guidelines designed to minimize the impacts of wind projects on wildlife.
The release of the voluntary, land-based wind energy guidelines in March followed nearly five years of collaboration among the wind energy industry, wildlife conservation organizations, Native American tribes, and federal and state regulators.
By supporting and using the guidelines, the wind energy industry is voluntarily agreeing to be held to a high standard for wildlife protection, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says.
In addition to AWEA, 40 individual member companies – including project developers, utilities and turbine manufacturers – signed the letter.
"These guidelines will not only improve siting practices generally, but will also protect federally listed, as well as non-trust wildlife and their habitats, to a greater degree than allowed under mandatory regulation," they wrote.
"We hope that, through proper implementation, we will be able to collectively ensure that wildlife are being adequately protected while creating an environment where robust development of wind energy will continue to occur across our nation for years to come," the letter also stated.
Actual data from more than 80 post-construction mortality studies puts the impact of wind energy at approximately three birds per megawatt per year on average, which, at currently installed levels, equates to roughly 140,000 birds per year, according to AWEA.
By contrast, hundreds of millions of birds a year die from collisions with buildings, domestic cats and other human structures and activities, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and national conservation organizations.