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Wildlife Considerations in Financing Wind Power Albuquerque, New Mexico July 2007 Penny Jennings Eckert, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Wildlife Considerations in Financing Wind Power Albuquerque, New Mexico July 2007 Penny Jennings Eckert, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Wildlife Considerations in Financing Wind Power Albuquerque, New Mexico July 2007 Penny Jennings Eckert, Ph.D.

2 Tetra Tech Experience Actively permitting projects in any state the wind is blowing! Many permitting and engineering projects in the West (including California), the Midwest, and the East (including New York). Also active in project construction (EPC)

3 Why Wildlife Issues at all? Collisions with turbines kill birds and bats Collisions with transmission lines kill birds Collision numbers vary geographically Wildlife may avoid windfarms, further reducing habitat available Installation of wind turbines and access roads can reduce or divide habitat Regulating agencies worry

4 Putting Avian Mortality in Perspective With Other Causes

5 But the agencies still worry!

6 Birds, Bats, and Bankers: Important questions:  Is permitting this project feasible?  How long will permitting take?  How much will permitting cost?  What role do wildlife issues play in permitting feasibility?  Will there be wildlife problems during operations?

7 It Depends!

8 Depends on….  Is there a Federal nexus?  What are the State permitting rules?  Who else is watching (stakeholder groups)?  Who’s in the neighborhood (resident wildlife)?  Who passes through and when (migratory birds and bats)?

9 Common Sources of Federal Nexus Federally managed land? (BLM, National Forest, Military, Indian Reservation) Substantial wetland or waterbody impact, either with project or with access and transmission? If yes then Army Corps of Engineers permit required. Cross an Interstate with a transmission line? If yes then FHWA involvement

10 Federal Nexus Brings…. NEPA compliance Consultation with USFWS on threatened and endangered species USFWS active in protection of eagles and migratory birds, involved in NEPA USFWS recommends THREE years of avian surveys prior to permitting Section 7 consultation on T&E has a timeline of around 6 months

11 State Permitting Varies drastically from state to state Federal-like rules in many states (e.g. CA, NY) NO state permitting in some states (e.g. TX) Intermediate permitting structures in most other states

12 State Permitting Brings…. Quasi-NEPA compliance Involvement of state wildlife agencies Often USFWS-like pre-permitting survey requirements If serious concerns for T&E species, may require a Section 10 consultation with USFWS, which has no set timeline and can take 1-2 years to issue a “take” permit

13 Stakeholder involvement brings… More attention to –preconstruction surveys – analysis –Mitigation Longer public involvement, possibly decision drag in agencies

14 Who’s in the neighborhood, and who’s passing through?

15 Wildlife Studies Site-specific baseline studies + geographically similar case histories = predicted impacts Impacts vary by location, location, and location

16 Wildlife Studies Pre-construction/siting –Initial “fatal flaw” analysis –Preconstruction surveys During Construction –Compliance, micrositing, habitat avoidance Post-construction –Fatality monitoring –Displacement studies

17 Wildlife Baseline Studies Preconstruction Surveys –Avian use surveys—resident, migrant—at least 1 year –Raptor nesting surveys –Habitat inventory and mapping –Bat habitat inventory and/or risk analysis –State Natural Heritage database/USFWS T&E species inquiries Studies vary by state and geographic setting

18 Additional Baseline Studies Radar study of night migrants Focused T&E species surveys where necessary USFWS requests a MINIMUM of two full years of avian studies prior to permitting (USFWS 2003)

19 Ideally…. Preconstruction Surveys Permit Permit Conditions, including mitigation Construction!

20 Impact Mitigation Avoidance Minimization Compensation

21 Avoidance Site turbines, roads, or transmission lines “somewhere else” Setbacks Have biologist on site to assist with micrositing Do not construct while animals are present Operational limitations (last resort)

22 Minimization Reduce footprint Reduce need for very wide roads by assembling cranes near installation site Reduce working hours during critical periods

23 Compensation Expenditures on studies sometimes count –Post-construction mortality studies –Pre- and Post-construction habitat use and species presence/success studies Contribution to other programs involved in habitat restoration Conduct onsite restoration Purchase of mitigation bank credits, where available Purchase of offsite habitat for preservation Management of offsite habitat “in perpetuity”

24 Conclusions Cost and schedule impact of wildlife studies varies by federal nexus presence, state rules, geography Studies are conducted to determine risk Risk can be mitigated (at a price) USFWS and state wildlife agencies generally continue to work with wind proponents in non-enforcement roles

25 Questions?

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