Wind turbines around the Great Lakes? A bad idea for bats

The rush is on to build scores of large, commercial wind energy facilities in and around the Great Lakes, in Canada and the United States. From the proposed Galloo Island and Lighthouse projects in New York to Camp Perry and Icebreaker in Ohio and Amherst Island and White Pines in Ontario, developers are looking to flood the region with renewable energy. But at what cost?

Many see renewable energy, including wind energy, as an important way to cut our dependence on fossil fuels and address global climate change. But this “green” revolution has a dark side. Collisions with wind turbines are killing hundreds of thousands of birds and bats annually. When you include collisions and electrocutions at associated power lines and towers, the number of birds killed climbs into the tens of millions.

These impacts are likely to grow along with the number of turbines and power lines constructed, a number that is increasing rapidly. American Bird Conservancy estimates that by 2050, when wind energy is projected to produce 35 percent of our electrical energy, as many as 5 million birds per year could be killed by turbines in the United States alone.

From the perspective of wildlife conservation, the Great Lakes are one of the worst possible places to put wind energy. During spring and fall, these large freshwater lakes pose a significant barrier to birds and bats during their annual migration to and from the boreal forests of Canada where they breed. Vast numbers of birds and bats, many of which migrate at night, gather along the shorelines and eventually fly along or over the lakes. Advanced radar studies conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Michigan, Ohio and New York have all confirmed the danger that large-scale wind energy development poses to migratory birds and bats in the region.

Read More at Chicago Tribune

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  • Sherri Lange

    This is so obvious. Bats are vulnerable, the canary in the mind, so to speak. Sadly, the USFWS numbers are notoriously low, and confusing to the public. Let’s tell the truth. The Great Lakes and Basin must NOT be barraged by this useless attempt to make money and scam the public with higher cost of power. World wide, wind turbines in 2014 produced net zero: less than half of one percent. This despite a huge embarrassing environmental hit that will take hundreds of years to recover. Let’s just right now say we are not going to pollute the Great Lakes, and create a massacre of the highest order. It is already taking place on the north shores of the Lakes in Ontario, where turbines line the shores. Banding stations are aghast, as is the public.

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