Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Recommendations made on curbing effects of wind farms

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today delivered to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recommendations on minimizing wind farms' impacts on wildlife and its habitat.

The recommendations were developed over two years by a 22-member Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee. The committee’s report includes guidance on policy issues and science-based technical advice on how best to assess and prevent adverse impacts to wildlife and their habitats while developing wind farms.

Among the recommendations is the development of a tiered evaluation system in which information is collected in increasing detail, quantifying the possible risks of proposed wind energy projects to wildlife and habitats, and evaluating those risks to make siting, construction and operation decisions. It includes guidelines meant to help developers determine early on what effects might be expected on a specific site.

The recommendations also include detailed information on potential mitigation policies and principles, the applicability of adaptive management and consideration of cumulative impacts, habitat fragmentation and landscape-level analysis.

As part of these efforts, the committee has urged the wind energy industry to participate and support partnerships such as the American Wind Wildlife Institute, National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, Grassland Shrub-Steppe Species Collaborative and the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative to promote research about wildlife and wind energy interactions.

Salazar plans to review the recommendations and take them under advisement as guidelines are put together for evaluating wind energy development on public and private lands, his office said today.

While Nevada is not expected to be a huge wind energy development state, there are a handful of wind power projects slated for federal land from Searchlight to China Mountain.

Las Vegas is also slated for a huge wind turbine manufacturing plant that could supply equipment to wind power projects across the country.

The recommendations, as well as a complete list of committee members, are available for download here.

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