U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offers Wind Turbine Siting Guidelines

April 21, 2010

Photo of a dozen or so wind turbines operating on a stretch of open space.

A new set of guidelines will help wind power developers assess the environmental impact of their projects.
Credit: Todd Spink

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) sent a set of final recommendations on how to minimize the impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and habitats to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on April 13. The proposed siting and operational guidelines by the 22-member Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee include a science-based "tiered" process that corresponds to the stage of development of each wind power project, ranging from preliminary assessments to post-construction impact studies. The process is intended to assist developers in assessing the environmental footprint of their projects. The recommendations also call for meaningful incentives for developers that voluntarily adopt the tiered approach and cooperate with the FWS while advancing their projects. The advisory committee includes representatives from federal, state, and tribal governments, as well as wildlife conservation organizations and the wind power industry.

The advisory committee recommended that the Interior Department assess all forms of environmental stressors to birds and wildlife, such as climate change, when making policy decisions. The committee also called for stakeholders at the federal, state, and tribal levels to develop a national research plan designed to reduce the negative effects on wildlife while allowing further wind energy development. Secretary Salazar will review the recommendations and then direct the FWS to write turbine siting guidelines for public and private lands. See the FWS press release (PDF 48 KB) and the advisory committee recommendations (PDF 1.43 MB). Download Adobe Reader.