Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

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Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby Ernie Coffman » Dec 10, 2009 8:43 am

In this latest article on wind turbines being stopped by court order, we see where David Cowan of West Virginia and crew have won their battle...so far :clap: and it just goes to show that some things can be overcome if you fight long and hard enough.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... =sec-metro Congrats, Dave on your winning battle. :banana_yay:
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 10, 2009 9:26 am

Article in today's Charleston (WV) Gazette:

http://wvgazette.com/News/200912090471

The sad part is the project will simply seek an Incidental Take Permit and if granted the project will continue. Hopefully a requirement to shut the turbines down during low wind speed can be added as a requirement for the ITP. We need to push hard for this - it will set a precedent for other wind projects in bat/cave country.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby wyandottecaver » Dec 10, 2009 5:21 pm

having been involved in the actual process for Incidental Take Permits, I assure you that "simply seek" does not apply. The fact that WV is an adjacent WNS state means that short of having very good political friends the conditions for ANY Incidental Take Perrmit (and what Incidental means in the context of WNS) will likely be quite stringent. On the other hand, once WNS has passed through it may well be possible to show that turbine operation poses little risk to bats since there wont be very many left to run into them.........

I admittedly am only passing familiar with the particulars, but WV also being a mountain top removal coal state I would wonder what the tradeoff would be between turbines and say leveling a mountain and filling the valley with acid drainage.....
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby Scott Shaw » Dec 10, 2009 7:58 pm

Oh good grief!
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 11, 2009 11:12 am

I hope you are right but in West Virginia I've seen:

1) An ITP issued for Virginia Northern Flying Squirrels for expansion/development of a ski resort.

2) Consideration of Virginia Big Eared Bats (Va BEB) was ignored for another project based on a 2 year old net survey that was done on a completely different site. The proposed project was within 5 miles of a major Va BEB hibernaculum.

We don't like Mountain Top Removal in West Virginia - which is why I was at the MTR protest at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection offices in Charleston, WV this past Monday. Robert J. Kennedy, Jr. spoke - you should check out the YouTube.

Just for the record - I don't like wind turbines that kill bats either.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby tncaver » Dec 11, 2009 11:47 am

What became of high frequency technology for the purpose of scaring birds and bats away from windmills, day and night? Why was there no compromise to allow wind turbines to run in daytime hours while bats are not flying? Seems like a total lose/
lose situation to me. The bats will lose because they will be blamed for stopping clean energy. The investors will lose their
money. The people will lose because they will have to continue using coal provided by companies that are blowing the tops
off their mountains and filling the valleys with toxic debris. Windmills produce no pollution or heat. There is
no way I see this as a victory for anyone.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 11, 2009 1:31 pm

I think there is a compromise - which is what should be proposed (and at a minimum demanded) for the project to proceed..............

Based on discussions I had at NSS/ICS in Kerrville, most (>90%??) of the wind turbine bat kills happen under low wind conditions - when insects are active and bats are actively seeking them - I guess neither like to fly when it's windy - which makes sense - nature tends to conserve her energy to ensure survival.

The turbines don't produce much power under low wind conditions - it's simply opportunitistic power generation.

So why not put a anemometer on each turbine and have it wired to a simple logic that stops (brakes) the turbine blades under low wind speeds?

Seems like it would be a win-win for the wind turbine developer and the bats...........now about that viewshed.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby tncaver » Dec 11, 2009 1:39 pm

George Phillips wrote:I think there is a compromise - which is what should be proposed (and at a minimum demanded) for the project to proceed..............

Based on discussions I had at NSS/ICS in Kerrville, most (>90%??) of the wind turbine bat kills happen under low wind conditions - when insects are active and bats are actively seeking them - I guess neither like to fly when it's windy - which makes sense - nature tends to conserve her energy to ensure survival.

The turbines don't produce much power under low wind conditions - it's simply opportunitistic power generation.

So why not put a anemometer on each turbine and have it wired to a simple logic that stops (brakes) the turbine blades under low wind speeds?

Seems like it would be a win-win for the wind turbine developer and the bats...........now about that viewshed.


The turbines could run full time during the day and not at all during night (other than winter)or when it's too calm. It seems
that bats and birds could be kept away with high frequencies too. I get the feeling that lawyers had more to do with the
outcome than common sense. As for the view, I think windmills are probably not as bad as flattened, bald mountains and orange stained rivers when it comes to a view. What a terrible loss of jobs and electric production for the people of the area. There are usually sensible solutions to most problems, yet they seem to be lost in the money shuffle most of the time. Plus
windmills don't pollute the air or water with chemicals.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 11, 2009 1:52 pm

If you shut them down based on wind speed you can run them day and night during summer and winter without the devastating bird/bat kills - that was my understanding when I discussed with the researcher at NSS/ICS.

The viewshed comment was tongue in cheek. However, there are better places for wind turbines other than pristine mixed hardwood forest Appalachian ridgelines. Abandoned or propsed MTR sites - like Coal River Mountain - would be my vote.

This was the focus of Monday's protest - residents are proposing that Coal River Mountain be developed into a wind turbine site rather than continuing to be decimated by MTR.

Google it and learn more about what we are doing here in West Virginia - you might be surprised.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby tncaver » Dec 11, 2009 2:13 pm

Perhaps the ruling by the judge was based upon this statement:

"the tragedy of this case is that the defendants (Beech Ridge and its parent company, Invenergy LLC of Chicago) disregarded not only repeated advice from the Fish and Wildlife Service but also failed to take advantage of a specific mechanism, the ITP (Incidental Take Permit) process, established by federal law to allow their project to proceed in harmony with the goal of avoidance of harm to endangered species."

Hopefully something can be worked out in the future if the companies involved will see the light and cooperate. Too many
times, perhaps energy companies are used to getting their way without having to go by the rules. I'm happy for protection
for the bats. Maybe eventually, the other issues can be worked out everyone.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 11, 2009 2:23 pm

Yes, what has me concerned is "failed to take advantage of" which makes it sound like it's just a simple routine thing to go get the ITP and proceed with the project.......I think the ITP - if issued - should have some concrete, enforceable requirements based on science which will protect the bats AND (not OR) allow the wind turbines to operate in a safe and cost effective manner.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby wyandottecaver » Dec 11, 2009 7:12 pm

George,

Again, since I dont know the particulars of each case I'm just offering observations based on my own research (MS Thesis on the Endangered Species Act) and similiar but different experiences with "real world" Federal Endangered Species Regulation.

Getting an ITP isn't really hard per se' beyond the time and complexity of negotions. The whole point of the ITP process is to allow development to move forward while still accounting for ESA concerns. HIstorically this was a compromise to keep business interests from torpedoing the whole Act.

Thus getting or not getting an ITP isnt really the point, but what conditions are imposed.

The Virgiana Flying Squirrels were delisted in 2008 and proposed in 2006 (same year 2nd permit was apparently issued) From the info available it seems the resort essentially gave up development rights on several hundred acres in exchange. In particular, the later permit was part of the 1st HCP in the State and had the Nature Conservancy as a Partner and thus there was a lot of incentive for the USFWS to "get it done".

In the case of VABEB's, I dont know anything about the surface study issues, but the only Critical Habitat designated for them are some specific cave Hibernacula. If the proposed project would not physically alter the conditions within the cave,(surface feeding areas were NOT designated as Critical Habitat) then the standard for approval would be very much reduced.

In the windmill case, it also appears they stiff armed the USFWS earlier, and thus having lost a lawsuit, their negotiating position is much reduced. Though the overall public appeal of wind power will certainly help. Given the increasing profile of turbine effects on birds and bats and WNS in the East, I would guess they will get an ITP...if they are ready to pony up in either land set asides or operating conditions.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby George Phillips » Dec 11, 2009 9:31 pm

Like I said in my original - they will get the ITP - the key is to get appropriate controls in place that will ensure the bats are protected.
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Re: Wind turbines stopped by NSS caver(s)

Postby PYoungbaer » Dec 14, 2009 9:56 am

FYI Ed Arnett of Bat Conservation International, along with John Hayes, Department of Wildlife Conservation and Ecology at U. of Florida, Gainesville, and Michael Schirmacher, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, presented an excellent paper on this subject at the North American Symposium on Bat Research in Portland, Oregon, Nov. 4-7.

While I was there to cover the WNS research, I did sit in on the wind power/bat sessions. This one was excellent. Entitled, "Reducing Bat fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities by Changing Turbine Cut-in Speed," this was the first US-based experiment on this subject. It was carried out at the Cassleman Wind Project in Somerset County, PA.

Briefly, the bat fatalities at fully operational turbines were more than 5 times greater than at curtailed turbines, and lost power was only 0.3 to 1% of total annual output.

I don't know if Ed's PowerPoint is available, but anyone interested might contact him at BCI for more information (earnett@batcon.org).
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