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First-in-the-nation voluntary agreement working to protect wildlife and their habitats

From the Pennsylvania Game Commission
 
-- HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission has released its first annual report about the results of the voluntary agreement between the agency and 20 wind energy companies who have vowed to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts on wild birds and mammals in the state.
 
“Wind energy development in Pennsylvania and the nation is increasing and, with the creation of the Game Commission’s Wind Energy Voluntary Cooperative Agreement, we are gaining more and more information on the impacts to birds and mammals,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “The major question has been where to best site turbines in relation to important migration routes of birds and bats, as well as critical habitats used by birds and mammals.  This report reveals which species are most susceptible to impacts from wind turbines and how much mortality is occurring in Pennsylvania.”
 
Roe noted that the information contained in this annual report will enable the Game Commission and wind energy companies to make more informed decisions in regards to siting wind projects, as well as mitigation methods for reducing mortality.
 
On April 18, 2007, the first 12 wind energy companies signed the agreement. Since that time, an additional eight companies have signed the voluntary agreement, which requires the companies to work with the Game Commission to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts on wild birds and mammals.  The agreement also requires companies to report one year of pre-construction surveys of wild birds and mammals in the project area, as well as two years of post-construction monitoring for mortality of birds and mammals in the project area.
 
The data made available for this annual report was made possible by pooling information from the 20 wind energy companies who signed the Game Commission’s Wind Energy Voluntary Cooperative Agreement. 

“As part of this process, we know that three proposed project sites were voluntarily abandoned by wind energy companies due to potential wildlife resource impacts that were brought to light through consultation with the Game Commission,” said William Capouillez, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management director.  “Other highlights of pre-construction monitoring during the past year were the discovery of the second largest Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) maternity colony and the first-ever documented discovery of a female lactating silver-haired bat (Lasiurus noctivagans) and maternity colony in Pennsylvania.
 
“These are real-world examples of how this voluntary agreement has helped protect wildlife and their habitats, and has allowed Pennsylvania to become one of the national leaders on determining and addressing wildlife impacts from wind energy development, as well as providing critical data needed to address future wind energy project proposals,” Capouillez said.

 “However, the primary challenges that remain include encouraging non-cooperators to sign the agreement; improving communication between the Game Commission, developers, and consultants; and making sure survey protocols are being adhered to,” he added.
 
For a complete copy of the annual report, visit the Game Commission’s website (
www.pgc.state.pa.us), and click on Wildlife in the left-hand column of the homepage, and then select Wind Energy at the bottom of the Wildlife box in the upper right-hand corner of the page

Those companies who have signed the voluntary agreement are  AES; Airtricity, Inc.; Competitive Power Ventures, Inc. (Iberdrola); Energy Unlimited, Inc.; Freedom Wind Energy, LLC; Gamesa Energy USA; Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA; PPM Atlantic Renewable (Iberdrola); ReEnergy, LLC; UPC Wind Management, LLC; US Wind Force, LLC; Acconia Wind Energy USA, LLC; Global Winds Harvest, Inc.; Penn Wind; Laurel Hill Wind Energy, LLC; Everpower Renewables; AMP-Ohio/MESA; Lookout Windpower, LLC; Forward Windpower, LLC; and BP Alternative Energy.

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