A coalition of energy companies, conservations groups and government agencies has developed a set of wind energy recommendations aimed at increasing production while protecting New Mexico wildlife—primarily birds and bats—and habitat.
The New Mexico Wind and Wildlife Collaborative’s (NMWWC) met for over two years to create a list of “best management practices” for designing and siting wind facilities that consider threats to birds and bats. Energy companies operating in New Mexico are not bound to following the recommendations.
According to Christopher Ratay of NMWWC participant Playa Lakes Joint Venture, a bird conservation group that helped to facilitate the meetings, the group tried to create a process that would consider wildlife not just at wind facilities but all renewable energy sources, including solar. He explained that while there are no state or federal regulations governing the renewable energy industry, wind facilities want to avoid creating problems if possible.
That’s because one of the appeals of wind power is that it’s considered a “green” energy source. While wind-generated power does allow energy companies to reduce their carbon footprint the height of the turbines, speed of the blades, and location of the towers all impact birds and bats. The turbine pads and roads created to install and maintain the towers fragment wildlife habitat.
Newer turbines and blades kill fewer birds, according to NMWWC, but even a well-designed wind tower placed in the path of migratory birds and foraging bats will create problems.Now that the group’s best management practices have been posted to their website only time will tell if wind-energy companies decide to implement them.
The NMWWC participants are:
Energy Industry & Utilities
enXco,First Wind,Horizon Wind Energy, Iberdrola Renewables,NextEra Energy,PNM Resources,Third Planet Windpower,Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association,Xcel Energy
Science & Conservation
Audubon New Mexico,Hawks Aloft,Natural Resources Defense Council,Natural Heritage New Mexico,Playa Lakes Joint Venture,The Nature Conservancy,University of New Mexico
Coalition of Renewable Energy Landowners (CRELA),FREDA,Tramperos Wind Energy Association
ACS Consulting,SORA,SWCA Environmental Consultants
NM Department of Agriculture,NM Department of Game & Fish,NM Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department,NM State Land Office,US Bureau of Land Management,US Fish and Wildlife Service,US Forest Service
For more on how our cities can create hazards for wildlife soar on over to Next-Door Nature.
Thanks to these photographers for making their work available through a Creative Commons license: [from top to bottom]: pheanix (vulture in flight); Jorge Lascar (wind turbine).