Guidelines protecting birds and bats adopted for Columbia Plateau wind power development
By Jim Maloney
After more than a year of meetings, e-mails, and conference calls, an all day work session on September 29 culminated in an agreement establishing a set of voluntary guidelines to guide assessment and development of wind energy facilities on the Columbia Plateau in Oregon.
Parties to the agreement include representatives from state and federal agencies, counties, wind energy developers, and environmental organizations. The environmental organizations participating included Lane Audubon, Portland Audubon, and The Nature Conservancy.
While the Guidelines focused on the Columbia Plateau, where most wind development in the state has occurred, they are meant to serve as a template for siting guidelines in other geographic regions in the state. Local modifications would be required to reflect differences in habitat types, bird and bat populations, and migratory routes.
In Oregon, proposed wind projects greater than 105 Megawatts must seek state approval. Smaller projects can apply directly to the county in which the project is proposed. While the state has a formal process and established rules for permitting and siting energy facilities, most counties do not have a uniform or detailed set of requirements. While they are not mandatory, these new guidelines, (the Oregon Columbia Plateau Ecoregion Wind Energy Siting and Permitting Guidelines), are meant to provide developers and counties the basic information necessary to evaluate whether and how a project can be built with minimal impacts to birds and bats.
Copies of the Guidelines and supporting letters are available at the following links or at www.rnp.org.
For more information contact Jim Maloney at jimgmal (at) comcast.net.