Wildlife Advisory Committee gets closer to the finish line

 What would happen if the wind industry, the regulators, and the conservationists got together to see if they could agree on guidelines for siting wind farms in a way that avoids or minimizes the impact on wildlife? We may be about to find out.

Since 2007, a Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee, representing industry, government and wildlife groups, has been meeting to draft recommended guidelines for the Interior Secretary to consider in making decisions about siting wind projects on Federal lands (not offshore). The group has its final meeting in March, when the draft is expected to be approved.

Reaching consensus on this is a singular accomplishment in an area where litigation is more typically the preferred option. And although the guidelines are only recommendations, they will carry weight with the Secretary and could serve as a basis for decisions by state and local jurisdictions grappling with the same question. (A consensus is a terrible thing to waste.)

Three members of the advisory committee will be discussing the FAC process, and how the guidelines may be implemented, at an AWEA Wind Power Project Siting Workshop Feb. 17-18 in Denver.

“At the workshop, the siting practitioner can expect nuts and bolts instruction on how to apply the recommended guidelines and how the guidelines interact with the Endangered Species Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,” said Rich Rayhill, a wind developer with Ridgeline Energy. Rayhill will be addressing the session along with fellow FAC members Dave Stout, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Steve Quarles, attorney with Crowell & Moring. Rayhill said the panel will also discuss how the guidelines will be disseminated and applied at the field office, state, and county levels.

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