Salem, Ore.— New guidelines to address wildlife concerns in the face of rapidly increasing wind energy facilities in the Columbia Basin are now available. The siting and permitting guidelines were created by a multi-stakeholder task force to assist wind developers and permitting agencies in avoiding and/or minimizing negative wind energy facility impacts on wildlife and habitats.
“If wind projects are not properly sited, there is the potential for unacceptable loss of or disturbance to wildlife, especially birds and bats,” said Rose Owens, ODFW Habitat Special Projects Coordinator. “Renewable energy is very important to Oregon’s future, but we want to make sure that we are putting facilities in places that minimize environmental and wildlife impacts.”
“The guidelines represent a balance between environmental impacts and development of important wind energy resources,” said Tom Stoops, Energy Siting Manager, Oregon Department of Energy.
Project developers and counties now have information about what they need to consider before sites are developed. Before committing to a site, for example, developers are asked to review certain information sources including the Oregon Conservation Strategy to identify important conservation opportunity areas, key native habitats and species.
The Wind Energy Siting and Permitting Guidelines cover each phase of wind facility development: macrositing, pre-project assessment, micrositing, construction and operational monitoring. Mitigation and programmatic recommendations are also included. The task force anticipates expanding the geographic coverage of the guidelines in the future to cover all parts of the state.
The task force includes the following organizations: Renewable Northwest Project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Energy, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sherman County, Morrow County, Klickitat County (Washington state), Iberdrola Renewables, Horizon Wind Energy, Portland General Electric, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Audubon Society of Portland, Lane County Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and Stoel Rives, LLP.
The Oregon Plateau Ecoregion Wind Energy Siting and Permitting Guidelines are available on several websites:
ODFW website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/tools.asp
The US Fish and Wildlife Service website, http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/LandAndWater/WindEnergy/
The Oregon.gov website, http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Wind/Permitting.shtml
Renewable Northwest Project website, http://www.rnp.org/default.html