US Fish and Wildlife Service Voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

On March 23, 2012, the United States Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service released their Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, a voluntary approach to minimize the impacts on wildlife and their habitat, when siting a wind turbine.  While these Guidelines are mainly geared towards utility-scale wind farms, sections are designed to cover all sizes of installations.

To quote the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA), “The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced its final wind siting guidelines. They now clearly differentiate between distributed and community wind and larger wind projects. This change is due to DWEA’s extensive advocacy in prior months. We put this issue on the map, as they say. We worked with the Department of Interior, Congress and numerous other stakeholders to educate them about our industry and get buy in for an alternative approach.”

The Service intends that these Guidelines, when used in concert with the appropriate regulatory tools, will form the best practical approach for conservation of species of concern.  As stated in Chapter 1, “A developer of a distributed or community scale wind project may find it useful to consider the general principles of the tiered approach to assess and reduce potential impacts to species of concern, including answering Tier 1 questions using publicly available information. In the vast majority of situations, appropriately sited small wind projects are not likely to pose significant risks to species of concern. Answering Tier 1 questions will assist a developer of distributed or community wind projects, as well as landowners, in assessing the need to further communicate with the Service…”

The Guidelines also provide Best Management Practices for site development, construction, retrofitting, repowering, and decommissioning.  In Chapter 7, it mentions the “Bird Flight Diverters” (BFDs). To see a photograph of one, click here.  Even when a Bird Flight Diverter is not required, a guyed-lattice tower with BFDs may be a cost-effective and acceptable alternative for a Town that insists on using only monopole towers to protect avian wildlife.

The usefulness of these Guidelines lay in part in the fact that they were created by an independent, knowledgeable, unbiased third-party.  If issues arise during local approval, referencing a document drafted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service may enhance credibility.

The news release about the Guidelines can be found here.

The complete Guidelines can be found here.

Source: NYSERDA and USDA

 

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