Category Archives: Animals and turbines

Threats in the Airspace

Sky-vista_iiiphevgeniy_Shutterstock
New research is shaping what we know about airspace as vital habitat for birds. Photo by iiphevgeniy/Shutterstock
Threats in the Airspace

Knowing how birds use the airspace already helps drive ABC’s work to minimize the dangers posed by wind turbines and communications towers. Aeroecology can help researchers and conservationists understand what happens to those birds in the air and how easy or safe it is to move from one location to another, an idea sometimes called “habitat connectivity.”

For Birds, The Sky Isn’t Just Empty Airspace. It’s Habitat.

Look up. All that empty space over our heads isn’t so empty. Many birds, bats, and insects spend a good part of their lives up in the air, foraging, mating, and migrating. Aerial insectivores such as swallows and swifts feed almost exclusively on the wing.

It doesn’t look like habitat, but for these animals, the airspace is home. It’s where they spend much of their lives. And as researchers are learning, what happens there carries life-or-death consequences.

Aeroecology, as it’s sometimes called, has come into its own as a field of research. This study of airspace as habitat is enabled by new technologies, by a rapidly expanding understanding of the complex ways animals interact with their environments, and by a growing interest in how human activities affect those environments. And it could have important implications for how conservation groups, including American Bird Conservancy (ABC), focus their work in coming years…..

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Fairwind Project Approval Revoked

Collingwood_Airport_12[7] As described in greater detail below, the Approval Holder has proposed an amendment to the REA to include additional curtailment measures designed to reduce little brown myotis mortalities. The Tribunal finds that these additional measures, provided they are amended to require that they be implemented from sunset to sunrise, is likely to significantly reduce little brown myotis mortality over the life of the Project. However, as neither the Approval Holder nor the Director has proposed effective means to mitigate the serious harm to human health, as found by the Tribunal in its October 2016 Order, the Tribunal concludes that the decision of the Director should be revoked. As such, an amendment to the REA to address harm to little brown myotis via an amended mitigation plan is rendered unnecessary.

READ FULL DECISION & ORDERS HERE : 16-036 WIGGINS V. ONTARIO (MOECC)

brown bat
little brown myotis

 

No Bats? Not if a wind developer takes a look

Bats are being killed at a rate by wind power plants that  have experts raising the alarm about sustaining population levels (in blunt terms for some bat species- extinction level threat). In Ontario 3 of our 8 species of bats are considered critically endangered and are facing possible extinction.   Kills by wind turbines add to existing pressures for their survival. Evidence mounts daily and it has the wind industry on the defensive.  It is more than convenient that a recently study of a woodlot being steward by an Ontario landowner was reported not to have any bats detected.   Bats which are so numerous that Theo Heuvelmans has had to hang a bamboo curtain over his home’s entrance to stop them from flying into his home.  What other industry is allowed to kill, harm and harass endangered species?   Wind power is allowed to not only self evaluated risks but once the projects are built they employ the clean- up crews to collect any found bodies and self report the deaths.  Time for being polite and time to say it out loud- bull!   It stinks.

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Theo Heuvelmans in front of the bamboo curtain he has hung to stop the bats from flying into the entrance of his home (Photo published with article below)

 

Study says winged critters not detected in woodlot near where turbines to be erected

By Ellwood Shreve, Chatham Daily News

DRESDEN – To put it politely, Theo Heuvelmans doesn’t believe the results of a yet-to-be-seen study that says there are no bats in a 36-acre woodlot on his property near here.

As of Friday, Heuvelmans still hadn’t heard or received any information about what biologists found after they went through his woodlot several times last spring and summer ahead of the North Kent 1 industrial wind farm project which is about to be built nearby by Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy.

However, he was astounded when The Chatham Daily News informed him on Friday that the newspaper had received a response that no bats were found in the area.

“They’re telling me there’s no bats here? I can’t believe it,” Heuvelmans said.

“The study found there were no bats detected on his property,” according to an e-mail The Daily News received from Pattern Energy’s media spokesperson.

The e-mail also noted the firm that completed the study will be reaching out to Heuvelmans to discuss their findings with him.

The Daily News has requested a copy of the study or to be able to speak with someone about it.

Heuvelmans recently contacted The Daily News after growing frustrated that repeated calls to try to get information about the study have not been returned.

For the past five years he has had to put up a bamboo curtain and a screen to the entrance of the alcove that is part of the entrance to his home, because it attracts so many bats.

“This is the only way I could keep them out,” Heuvelmans said.

He initially refused a request by the wind farm developers to have his woodlot be studied. However, he noted company officials with AECOM Canada, an engineering consulting firm hired by the wind developers to study his woodlot, persisted and told him if bats were present it could impact where the turbines are built.

Heuvelmans agreed, hoping the presence of the bats would result in the wind turbines being constructed further from his woodlot.

However, judging from roads recently built on nearby fields, it appears two turbines will each be constructed within 300-400 metres of the woodlot – one on the west side and another to the north.

Heuvelmans said he put up several bat houses in the woodlot and nearby meadow about a year ago, with the hopes of moving the bats away from his home. He also admits he hoped it would help ensure the turbines would be built farther from the woodlot.

Heuvelmans also said he was told if bats were found in the woodlot, the turbines could be shut down at night to accommodate that.

He is worried that the turbines will negatively impact the wildlife living there, noting great horned owls are regularly seen flying from the woodlot to another nearby bush.

Heuvelmans questions why the turbines can’t be built farther way from woodlots. He would also like to see the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which is purchasing a 15 per cent stake in North Kent 1, take a more active role in protecting these kinds of areas.

However, the approvals for industrial wind farms are provided through the Green Energy Act, which is under the jurisdiction of the province of Ontario.

eshreve@postmedia.com

Original article

Victory! Turtle Power Rules!

blandings-on-forest-floorWhite Pines Wind (WPD) proposed to be located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County has been dealt a severe blow by the Environmental Review Tribunal. The decision from the “remedies hearing”  dealt with issues surrounding the findings of the Tribunal that serious and irreversible harm to the environment to the endangered Blanding’s Turtles, Little Brown Bat and other species at risk would result from the project’s activities.  WPD never the less began land clearing construction in sensitive wetland habitats and continued just days prior to the ruling being rendered.

Photos via APPEC

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Removal of 18 of 29 turbines leaves lingering questions if the wind project remains financially viable.  The residents of Prince Edward County and world wide can only hope that this is a final and fatal blow to the White Pine Wind that will result in halting the invasion of industrial wind turbine generators.

DECISION
[166] Under s. 145.2.1(4)(c) of the EPA, the Tribunal alters the decision of the Director by amending Renewable Energy Approval No. 2344-9R6RWR as follows:
1. Adding the following conditions to the REA:
i. Condition J7.1. The Company shall implement the Mitigation Plan for Operation of the White Pines Energy Project, dated July 21, 2016 prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd., including:
1. Implement the monitoring and mitigation measures as
outlined in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan;
2. Adjust cut-in speed to 5.5 m/s between sunset and sunrise
from May 1 to September 30 at all turbines for the operating
life of the Project; and
3. In the event of a mortality of a bat species that is a species
at risk, successively increase the operational mitigation as
detailed in Table 2 of the Mitigation Plan.
ii. Condition L2. Further, the Company shall implement the additional
avoidance and mitigation measures as outlined in the report
“Additional Avoidance and Mitigation Measures to Minimize
Potential Impacts to Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)”,
prepared by Natural Resources Solutions Inc., dated July 22, 2016,
65 15-068
including implementation of the mitigation measures described in Tables 2-1 to 2-5 and 4-1 of that report.
2. Removing from the REA the turbines proposed to be accessed by upgraded municipal secondary and tertiary road segments and intersections in Blanding’s turtle habitat, as identified in Figure 2.2 of the report “Additional Avoidance and Mitigation Measures to Minimize Potential Impacts to Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)”, prepared
by Natural Resources Solutions Inc., dated July 22, 2016, specifically Turbines 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29.
Renewable Energy Approval Altered

15-068 HIRSCH V. ONTARIO (MOECC)

The WPD White Pines Wind decision can be read here:

15-071 WPD WHITE PINES WIND INC. V ONTARIO (MOECC)

White Pines Wind (WPD)

Turbines 12, 13, 14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 are removed from  the project.

white pines wind

 

 

 

Deep ‘Green’ Hypocrisy: Wind Power Cult Happily Ignores Bird and Bat Blood Bath

“This brings us to indefatigable wind warrior Esther Wrightman, an Ontario wind turbine refugee who fled to New Brunswick. Last year she filed a Freedom of Information request (FOI) with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in order to obtain the wind industry’s mandatory bird and bat mortality reports. In January she finally received “loads” of them, for a hefty fee. The mortality numbers are disturbing. Esther writes:

As the bird and bat mortality reports are slowly uncovered, the numbers just seem to get worse and worse. I never imagined it could get this low, but then again nobody was releasing this info to the public, so how were we to know?”

eagle-nest

Source: Deep ‘Green’ Hypocrisy: Wind Power Cult Happily Ignores Bird and Bat Blood Bath

Origins & migratory patterns of bats killed by wind turbines in southern Alberta

alberta wind

Origins and migratory patterns of bats killed by wind turbines in southern Alberta: evidence from stable isotopes

Author:  Baerwald, Erin Baerwald, Erin;Patterson, Bill Patterson, Bill; and Barclay, Robert Barclay, Robert

Abstract: Large numbers of migratory bats are killed every autumn at wind energy facilities in North America. While this may be troubling from a population perspective, these fatalities provide an opportunity to learn more about bat migration and the origins and summer distributions of migratory bats by using endogenous markers. Such markers include stable isotope values, which have been used to answer questions about ecological systems, such as trophic levels and food webs, and the origins and migratory routes of animals. To estimate the origins of migratory bats, we determined nitrogen (δ¹⁵N), carbon (δ¹³C), and hydrogen (δ²H) stable isotope values of fur (δ¹⁵Nf, δ¹³Cf, δ²Hf, respectively) from hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) and silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans) killed at a wind energy facility in southern Alberta, Canada. We determined that mean isotope values varied among species, year, sex, and age class. δ¹³Cf and δ²Hf values indicated that silver-haired bats likely originated in the boreal forest, farther north and/or at higher elevations than the aspen parkland-like habitat suggested by the isotope values of hoary bats. IsoMAP analysis indicated that bat fatalities may have originated from a large catchment area potentially hundreds of kilometers away. Our data provide further evidence for a migration route along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains that is used by bats from across Alberta and beyond, and suggest that fatalities at a single wind energy site have the potential to have far-reaching ecological and population consequences.

E. F. BAERWALD, W. P. PATTERSON, and R. M. R. BARCLAY

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Ecosphere 5(9):118. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES13-00380.1

Download original document: “Origins and migratory patterns of bats killed by wind turbines in southern Alberta: evidence from stable isotopes”

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

Source: National Wind Watch

PHOTO BELOW: University of Calgary bat researchers Cori Lausen, left, and Erin Baerwald, perform a bat carcass search at a wind energy site in Southern Alberta.

READ MEDIA ARTICLE: Bat deaths at wind farms need more study, expert says SHEILA PRATT, EDMONTON JOURNAL 11.19.2014

bat alberta edmonton.jpg
Researchers from Calgary University

 

 

 

Who Pays for killing the Eagles?

eagle soaringSouthern Ontario has 4 publicly known (to date ) eagle deaths caused by wind turbines.  READ:  NextEra freely handed permit to destroy Bald Eagle nest: FOI records

Internationally deaths of the iconic raptors by wind projects remains an ongoing environmental horror story.  The writer in the  letter below asks questions about the deference granted to wind facilities who are in essence given licence to kill unlike any other industry.

Emmetsburg NewsMarch 21, 2017

To the Editor:

If wind turbines are subject to wildlife areas, what happens if an eagle is hit and killed or wounded by a wind turbine? Eagles are an endangered bird and are protected by the Federal Gov. law. I read on the internet, the first offense is a $5000 fine and or one year in jail. Second time it is $10000 fine and two years in jail. Third time, if that is a felony, the fine is $250000 and jail time. Now, question is, who is to blame for the death or wounding of the eagle? Remember this is a federal crime if one is killed or wounded according to the message on the internet. Who would pay the damages or the jail time? Would it be the wind turbine company, the land owner, or would it be the county supervisors who made this decision on their own to allow the wind companies to come in by rezoning, or would it be all three?

(signed)?Tillford Egland

Cylinder, IA (USA)

Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility: Wrong from the start

ocotillo nightThe Lesson: This project was a disaster from the beginning. Speed and greed are a recipe for environmental, economic, and social failures. Applications for future wind developments must learn from this experience and be much, much more diligent and responsible in their planning and execution.

Desert Report March 2017 – Parke and Linda Ewing

The Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility (OWEF)1 is an utility scale project placed on 12,436 acres near Ocotillo, California, of which 10,151 acres are public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Let’s not forget the towns of Ocotillo and NoMirage. Not huge towns, but home to 266 residents who chose the solitude, the quietness, and the beauty of the ever-changing seasons. Much of this beauty, along with the ecosystem, has been sacrificed.

This wind energy facility now consists of 112 Siemens 2.3-108 MW Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT), which means each IWT was rated to produce 2.3 Megawatts (MW), and the blade swept area is 108 meters in diameter (354.331’). At a later date, the rating was increased to 2.7 MW per tower, very likely to meet the minimum installed capacity required by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) if San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is to meet their mandated renewable energy requirements.

The nacelle, which houses moving and support components such as the gearbox, generator, and main shaft, sits on top of a round tapered steel tower 80m (262.467’) above the ground. The 173’ long blades are held in place at a hub which is attached to the end of the nacelle. The total height of the wind turbine when a blade is in the 12 o’clock position is about 438’. The base of the tower is 15’ in diameter and houses the inverter and control equipment. Two cooling fans are placed outside of the base under the entry stairway, and the transformer is placed on the ground next to the base. More data can be found at Wikipedia2 and at the Siemens’ link3. All these links are posted in the “Notes” section online at http://www.desertreport.org.

ocotilloPublic Involvement

How did this happen? Initially, when we first heard about this project, we were told by Pattern Energy officials and by project documentation that we, the residents, would not be impacted by the turbine facility because it would be located five miles away from the Ocotillo Community. Five miles? That’s an acceptable distance. My wife and I now have turbines that reside one-half a mile from our house and with most less than one mile from the community on all sides.

There were so many maps presented during the different meetings with the various Imperial County departments that confusion ran rampant when someone asked which map represented the location of the turbines for this project. During a scoping meeting, a meeting designed to gain input from every single entity, person, department, or facility that may be impacted by this project, the residents were not allowed to speak. Instead, we were instructed to write our questions on a post card, and they would be addressed at a later time. When?

Ground Disturbances

Now let’s talk about the turbine access roads. Initial discussions and documentation indicated that these roads would be thirty-six feet wide and then narrowed to sixteen feet once the project was complete. In addition there would be an additional fifteen feet on either one side or both sides for the electrical collection lines from each turbine. Some roads ended up being up to 113 feet wide. The disturbance caused to Native American sites and to wildlife has been recorded many times4.5.

Many homeowners have felt the need to purchase flood insurance, in the middle of the desert. Residents feel that Pattern Energy was allowed to change the drainage patterns that will affect the alluvial fans, causing flooding by diversion of rain runoff. Construction of forty-two miles of access roads and an additional eighty-two miles of collection lines has stripped the water absorbing desert crust, creating the potential for flooding in areas that have been safe in past years.

Initial Wind Estimates

The next indiscretion that made itself Somewhere on this map is a community now surrounded by industrial project. known were the wind values. The wind values were incorrectly stated – records were from the Desert View Tower located ten miles up the Interstate Highway grade from Ocotillo and approximately another 2500 feet higher than the desert valley where the project is located. How were they allowed to use those numbers? Three years of data have shown that these turbines are not generating the power that was projected.

Production Shortfall

During the permitting process, differing estimate were given for the energy production of the facility depending upon who made the estimate and for whom they were intended. Ultimately Patten Energy stated that the OWEF would have a capacity factor of 34% (meaning that over time it would produce 34% of its maximum rated output at full sunlight) and that it would produce 2673 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy in its first three years. In fact, the actual capacity factor during this period was 21%, and the total energy produced was 1438 GWh, far below the projected figures. This was in spite of receiving $115,890,946 dollars from the Department of Energy’s 1603 Cash Grant Program6 in lieu of the Production Tax Credits and $110,000,000 from the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission7.

During the BLM scoping period for the project, many comments were submitted. The majority of these were in opposition to the OWEF. Comments that favored the facility were mostly based on the jobs and economic benefits that the facility would provide. A small minority of the comments favored the facility because of the sustainable renewable energy benefits. Those claims were based on the “Installed Capacity,” which is the maximum power which the facility can generate at full daytime sunlight, and an expected capacity factor of 34%. Ocotillo Wind, as stated previously, has fallen far short of predictions.

Current electricity generation for the residents of California relies on a mix of energy production technologies including: coal (7.7%), natural gas (41.9%), nuclear (13.9%), other renewables (13.7%), hydroelectric (10.8%), and others (12.0%). Based on nearly 204,000 GWh of net power generation in California in 2010, the average annual production of 479 GWh by the Ocotillo facility represents only 0.2 percent of California’s total. It is reasonable to wonder if the negative consequences of the project can be justified by this small contribution.

Mechanical failures

The OWEF has been plagued by mechanical problems. On May 16, 2013, a 173’ long wind turbine blade was thrown off of Turbine 156. The cause was determined to be a fiberglass root segment curing problem. Ten wind turbine blades were ultimately replaced at Ocotillo Wind. Many people familiar with the facility believe that the blade problem was due to the “fast tracking” of the facility to enable Ocotillo Express LLC to complete the project by the end of 2012, so they could qualify for the 1603 Cash Grant offered by the Department of Energy.

On January 15, 2015, Turbine 110 had a major fire. The cause of the fire was never revealed. The entire turbine was eventually replaced. The turbine did not generate power for nine months.

On November 21, 2016, Turbine 126 collapsed entirely. It was later confirmed to have been caused by a turbine blade striking the side of the tower. According to the Ocotillo Wind website, a shear stiffener inside of the blade was found to have failed. The Ocotillo Wind website8 stated that the turbine actually collapsed “in the Designated Safe Zone.” There are easily twelve wind turbine sites where BLM designated trails fall within that so-called designated safe zone. Potentially, a person could be killed under any of the Ocotillo Wind Turbines since the entire area is open to
the public.

The OWEF has been plagued with oil leaks. The residents of Ocotillo have counted over seventy turbines with oil leaks at towers and countless hydraulic oil leaks on the blades, many of them considered to be significant by the Imperial County Environmental Task Force. Additionally failures of yaw drives (which orient the blades into the wind) have caused problems. Eight gearboxes have been replaced since the facility became 100% operational along with hundreds of yaw drives.

ocitillo 1013925_544090075648796_475568349_n1Visual Blight

The bright red blinking lights of Ocotillo Wind are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and can be seen from the southern portion of the Salton Sea, over seventy miles away. Nobody lives in the desert to view wind turbine lights blinking in unison all night long. Pattern Energy promised the community a lighting control system which would be radar activated only when aircraft were present. The Laufer System9 was approved by the FAA in January of 2016. Pattern constructed the whole first phase of Ocotillo Wind consisting of ninety-four turbines in a record 6 1/2 months, but it has been over a year, and the very irritating red lights still shine.

Death in the Airocitillo-1-1038x576.png

Many birds have been struck by the wind turbine blades, and bats lungs have exploded as they fly near the turbines. A carcass survey between 10/05/14 and 09/22/15, obtained by a FOIA request, indicated that sixty-nine birds and bats were found on the agreed upon survey sites, under or near the wind turbines. Every wind turbine site on the facility was not searched every day. We can assume that scavengers consumed many of the carcasses prior to the survey. Bird kills don’t appear to be a huge problem in Ocotillo, but we all hate the killing of any wildlife.

The once numerous Red Tailed Hawks have disappeared. Were they killed by spinning wind turbine blades? There were once so many jackrabbits that it was overwhelming. Now there are no jackrabbits, and the coyotes have also disappeared completely. The last time we saw one, it was skinny and sickly looking, almost certainly for lack of food. The ecosystem is gone.

The Lesson

This project was a disaster from the beginning. Speed and greed are a recipe for environmental, economic, and social failures. Applications for future wind developments must learn from this experience and be much, much more diligent and responsible in their planning and execution.

Desert Report Spring 2017:

Noise from Wind Turbines cause residents to vacate their home

adelaide wind turbineSuncor wind turbines located in Adelaide Metcalfe, Ontario have generated another documented case of residents forced to abandon their home due to wind turbine noise. The letter from James and Heather Dymond reaches out to Mayor and Council demanding they find a solution. If you are also impacted it is important no matter what they say or what you are told know this- you are not alone.  Please continue to speak up and send in your letters to those who are mandated to protect us.

February 15, 2016

I’m writing today to ask Adelaide Metcalfe council to find a solution to the issues surrounding Suncor wind turbines, that are causing us to have to vacate our house at night, as well as some days – since April 2015. We pay taxes to the township for a home that we can no longer enjoy. We have to leave at night to get a break from the incessant infrasound emitted from the turbines. It is a sound that one can feel more than hear.

I am suffering from nausea, vertigo, and at times extreme headaches, wherein I have to leave the house immediately to get any relief. I’ve spent countless hours in the searing sun in the summer, because I couldn’t stay in the house without feeling like vomiting. I am now on prescription meds for vertigo which I have never experienced before. The meds help somewhat, but don’t eliminate the problem. My work is livestock based on the property, and I have noticed negative effects on my livestock as well.

Suncor has been contacted, and has informed me that I am the only one with any problems and that the turbines are running within guidelines. We have not signed a contract with any wind company, yet are forced to live with the problems they create.

Since the family of Mary Ann Hendrikx has approximately six wind turbine contracts with Suncor, I have not included her on this email as it is a conflict of interest.

Sincerely,
James Dymond