Studying bats and wind turbines

US company Iberdrola Renewables has presented the first of its internal awards for technicians under its Avian and Bat Protection Policy (ABPP). From Iberdrola’s press release:

The Casselman and Peñascal Wind Power Projects in Pennsylvania and Texas respectively won the 2011 awards for wind plant achievement. Stewart Banks, a technician at the Hardscrabble Wind Power Project in New York, was honored for individual achievement.

Bat conservation at wind farm
BCI Conservation Biologist demonstrates field data collection procedures at the Casselman Wind facility (picture from BCI).

Casselman Wind Power Project in Pennsylvania was the site of a groundbreaking, two-year study on the interaction between bats and wind turbines. It was conducted by independent conservation group Bat Conservation International (BCI) through the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), which is a coalition of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and BCI.

“From the start, the entire Casselman staff and the guys back at our National Control Center in Portland have been 100 percent in the game on contributing to research on this fascinating but not well-understood species,” said Chris Long, Casselman plant manager. “I’m just honored to pick up the award on my team’s behalf.”

This support and effort by onsite personnel continued with the implementation of the wildlife program at Casselman. Their exceptional performance of compliance requirements and monitoring was exemplified during agency site visits to demonstrate and discuss the wildlife program.

More detail on the activities of the technicians follows:

Onsite technician training

As part of Iberdrola Renewables’ ABPP and wildlife program, an onsite operations technician is identified and trained as the Environmental Coordinator (EC) at each site in the company’s fleet of wind farms. On a regular schedule, the EC visually examines the immediate area around selected wind turbines, walking pre-determined routes along access roads and around turbine pads searching for carcasses. Then the ECs use a mobile technology device to photograph, document and report any observed casualties directly to Portland, Ore., headquarters for processing, notifications and any specific follow-up required. The efforts by the ECs are audited by third-party biological contractors, verifying the searchers’ efficiencies, thereby increasing the level of confidence in the data collected.

You can read more about the topic, the studies being undertaken and measures to reduce bat mortality at Bat Conservation International and the Bats and Wind Energy Co-operative.

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