WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne has appointed four members to the Department’s Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee, which recommends effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats from land-based wind energy facilities.
“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Commissioner Karen Douglas and members René Braud, Ed Arnett, and Scott Darling,” Kempthorne said. “They will join a strong team of experts to help the Department develop this vital new source of clean, renewable energy for America while providing safe and effective measures to protect wildlife and mitigate other environmental impacts.”
Wind power could help meet up to 20 percent of the nation’s energy needs, Kempthorne noted, but because wind turbines can cause bird and bat mortality and may have other ecological effects, improved site selection and turbine design, among other measures, need to be developed to tap this resource in an environmentally responsible manner.
Commissioner Douglas represents the California Energy Commission, where she is chair of its Renewables Committee, which oversees issues related to siting power generation facilities in the state. The California Energy Commission recently published guidelines that are among the most comprehensive in the United States for reducing impacts to birds and bats from wind energy development.
René Braud, who represents wind energy development organizations, has 12 years of experience in energy siting and permitting and 6 years of experience in wind energy. She has expertise in standards for new development siting studies, due diligence, project design and mitigation, as well as in policy and federal and state guidance development.
Ed Arnett, Ph.D, who was nominated by Bat Conservation International, is a widely-recognized bat ecologist with special expertise in the impacts of wind energy development on bat species. He has studied and researched bats for the past 11 years and served as project coordinator for the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative. His expertise and experience bring a national perspective on bat-related issues and ensure that the Committee is equipped to adequately address bat and wind energy interaction issues.
Scott Darling, from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, is a wildlife biologist with experience managing large mammals, such as turkey, white-tailed deer, and black bear, as well as developing and implementing conservation and recovery plans for the state’s bat species. He will enable the Committee to address the unique wildlife impact issues associated with wind energy development in the Eastern United States.
Members of the Committee represent the varied interests associated with wind energy development and the management of wildlife species and their habitats, including stakeholders, federal and state agencies, and Tribes. They also are senior representatives of their respective constituent groups.
Members have knowledge of wind energy facility location, design, operation, transmission requirements, wildlife species potentially affected, wildlife survey techniques, applicable laws and regulations, and wind/wildlife interactions. The Committee may also include independent experts in wind energy/wildlife interactions, appointed as special government employees, to provide technical advice.
The Committee operates under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and reports to the Secretary of the Interior through the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It functions solely as an advisory body and provides recommendations on effective measures to protect wildlife resources and coordinate review and evaluation of facilities by state, tribal, local, and federal agencies.
In 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed the “Interim Voluntary Wind Turbine Guidelines” to assist the wind energy industry in avoiding or minimizing impacts to wildlife and their habitats when developing wind energy facilities. After reviewing the comments received and evaluating advances in the science behind wind turbine siting and design, the Department sought additional input in developing a revised product, which will also be made available for public review and comment.
The Committee is expected to meet about four times per year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide necessary support to the Committee. All meetings will be open to the public and a notice announcing each Committee meeting will be published in the Federal Register at least 15 days prior to the date. The public will have an opportunity to provide input at all meetings.
To learn more about the Interior Department’s wind initiatives, please see http://www.doi.gov/initiatives/wind.html. To see the Service’s Interim Guidelines on Avoiding and Minimizing Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines as well as links to the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, please see http://www.fws.gov/habitatconservation/wind.htm.