Wind-Bird Debate Flares With New Fatality Figure

A published study has concluded that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were killed by wind power in 2012. The figure on birds – which includes 83,000 raptors – is about 30 percent higher than the 444,000 estimate by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist in 2009, when the U.S. had about half as much installed wind capacity.

The study, published in the March 2013 issue of Wildlife Society Bulletin, was highlighted this week in a story on the conservative news site Daily Caller.

wind birds deaths

image via Shutterstock

In the study’s abstract, author and ornithologist K. Shawn Smallwood writes that the goal of his research was to resolve disparate bird and bat fatality estimates that result from widely varying “field and analytical estimates.” To do so he performed various adjustments to totals he had in hand. For instance, he adjusted figures upward to account for carcasses not found, basing the adjustment on field trials that have attempted to quantify how likely killed birds are to be removed or detected.

Smallwood determined that  there were “888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012.” (The U.S. began 2012 with 46,916 MW of installed wind capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and ended the year with 60,007 MW.)

“As wind energy continues to expand,” Smallwood concluded, “there is urgent need to improve fatality monitoring methods, especially in the implementation of detection trials, which should be more realistically incorporated into routine monitoring.”

Smallwood’s number is higher than the one put forward by Fish & Wildlife biologist Albert Manville in 2009 [PDF], although per megawatt of installed capacity is actually lower. It’s also much higher than other more recent estimates – and it’s a number that is tiny in comparison to other killers of birds.

In a January 2011 article in Birding magazine, for instance, Paul Kerlinger and two coauthors concluded: “As of early 2010, we estimated that approximately 100,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year in the U.S., based on an average of about 3+ birds per turbine per year times 30,000 turbines. This number of fatalities does not appear to be causing significant impacts to populations of the species involved, although as more turbines are erected, cumulative impacts must be considered. If the number of birds estimated to be killed by communication towers (4–50 million) is correct, towers cumulatively may kill 40–500 times more birds than do wind turbines currently operating in the U.S.”

And in a comment to the Daily Caller story, the American Wind Energy Association pointed out:

(B)ased on preliminary analysis of data collected from more than 100 wind farms presented at the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative biennial research meeting in November 2012 it is estimated that approximately 200,000 birds collide with turbines annually at current installed wind energy capacity (60+ Gigawatts – enough to power the equivalent of over 15 million homes). This number pales in comparison to other sources like buildings (97-970 million), telecommunication towers (4-5 million), and oil and waste water pits at oil and gas production fields (2-3 million), among other causes of mortality.

Another point to consider is what it would mean to abandon wind and fail to take advantage of the clean energy it offers. It’s this prospect that drives most conservation groups to support wind power. As the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote recently:

(W)e don’t have to choose between healthy and abundant eagle populations and scaling up wind generation to meet our energy needs.  That’s a false choice we don’t have to make.  What we do need to do is work together—wind energy companies, environmentalists, landowners, policy makers and others—to find the right balance here.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • American Wind Energy Assn.

    No one takes the issue of wildlife impacts more seriously than the wind industry. While some birds do occasionally collide with wind turbines, modern wind power plants are cumulatively far less harmful to birds than other man-made structures, human activities, and sources of energy generation.

    Further, many experts agree the number of bird fatalities associated with wind energy production is much lower than this article claims, and this cited figure is the opinion of one biologist and not the definitive source of information on this subject. With that in mind, based on preliminary analysis of data collected from more than 100 wind farms presented at the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative biennial research meeting in November 2012 it is estimated that approximately 200,000 birds collide with turbines annually at current installed wind energy capacity (60+ Gigawatts – enough to power the equivalent of over 15 million homes). This number pales in comparison to other sources like buildings (97-970 million), telecommunication towers (4-5 million), and oil and waste water pits at oil and gas production fields (2-3 million), among other causes of mortality.

    Regarding enforcement of federal wildlife regulations, it is worth noting that the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act has broad sweeping implications. It is a strict-liability law, meaning that anyone who kills even one bird, either knowingly or unknowingly could be prosecuted for violating the act. However, in order to have a functioning society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) uses its discretion to enforce this regulation and focuses those enforcement efforts on those entities who kill migratory birds without identifying and implementing reasonable and effective measures to mitigate these impacts.

    To that end, wind developers coordinate closely with the USFWS throughout the siting process. We do more to study, monitor, and mitigate for the impacts associated with project development and operation than any other energy sector. When unforeseen impacts have been identified, the plant operators have worked with the USFWS to address their concerns. Further, the wind industry is making every effort to work proactively with regulators and the conservation community to improve siting practices and further reduce the comparatively small impacts on migratory birds of all kinds.

    Finally, generating electricity from wind does not create air or water pollution, greenhouse gases, use water, require mining or drilling for fuel, or generate hazardous waste that requires permanent storage, and as a result represents the lowest impact form of energy generation available to our society today. This is further reinforced by the findings of a qualitative analysis conducted in 2009 on behalf of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which found that of all the energy sources evaluated (i.e. coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and wind), wind energy has by far the lowest cradle-to-grave lifecycle impacts on wildlife and their habitats.

    No energy source – or really any human activity for that matter – is completely free of impacts. But, the decision America faces is how we will power our country and make choices after weighing the costs and benefits. Wind energy is the right choice.

    John Anderson, Director of Siting Policy, American Wind Energy Association.

    • Alec Sevins

      More vague propaganda that ignores the stark figures in this article. You want to protect your gravy train more than anything. These huge machines dominate most landscapes they are placed in. Aside from the bird kills (which will only grow as more towers are installed), there is untold damage to wildlife from the unnatural noise and shadow flicker imposed on the landscape. People’s complaints draw attention but other species have no voice. How many animals are prevented from getting normal sleep, I wonder? They are surely spooked by the alien presence of these structures, which do at least as much damage as mountaintops removed for coal..

      Wind turbines have much lower energy density than traditional power plants, and are placed in areas that never expected industrial development. The fast-tracking of turbines in Maine’s wilderness is a depressing example. You can use all the platitudes you want but your industry is ruining the landscape in unprecedented ways.

  • Cooper Johnson
    • Pete Danko

      Outdoor ones, at least.

    • Mary

      This is a ridiculous response to the issue of turbines killing birds. Cats kill a variety of small birds, allowing nature to maintain balance because no single species or class of bird is particularly vulnerable to housecats. Industrial wind is disastrous to raptors and large migratory birds, like geese. I’d like one of the people who bring up this pointless and baseless argument to show me the ecological equivalent of Altamont Pass with housecats. Golden eagle experts are hosting conferences with titles like; “The Uncertain Future of Golden Eagles in North America.” Loss of habitat (check: wind), transmission lines (check wind), collisions with moving parts in foraging habitat (check: wind)…..Wind is third in the list of 7 causes for their trouble. Wind energy is involved in all of the top three causes. Show me where cats have done the same level of destruction to any one species of bird anywhere in the world.

      • Cooper Johnson

        “Abstract: Anthropogenic threats, such as collisions with man-made structures, vehicles, poisoning and predation by domestic pets, combine to kill billions of wildlife annually. Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.”

        http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n1/full/ncomms2380.html

  • American Wind Energy Assn.

    As this article correctly noted, there are no silver bullets for solving our energy challenges. But American wind energy is the most readily-scalable form of emission-free electricity production available, and while some birds do occasionally collide with wind turbines, modern wind power plants are cumulatively far less harmful to birds than other man-made structures, human activities, and sources of energy generation.

    Further, as the article noted and we have previously stated, many experts agree the number of bird fatalities associated with wind energy production is much lower than this article claims, and the cited figure is the opinion of one biologist and not the definitive source of information on this subject. In fact, this study was not an evaluation of new information, rather it merely reviewed existing avian mortality studies and then adjusted all of their findings upwards in one or more ways, taking exception with the approaches to avian mortality counts and all of the other studies’ prior adjustments – essentially saying every other biologist in the country has been wrong in how they conducted their studies and analyzed their data over the last 30 years.

    That aside, as a clean energy industry, no one takes the issue of wildlife impacts more seriously than the wind industry. That’s why we do more to study, monitor, and mitigate for the impacts associated with project development and operation than any other energy sector.

    When unforeseen impacts occur, the plant operators work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other stakeholders to address their concerns. Further, the wind industry is making every effort to work proactively with regulators and the conservation community to improve siting practices and further reduce the comparatively small impacts on migratory birds of all kinds.

    No energy source – or really any human activity for that matter – is completely free of impacts. But generating electricity from wind does not create air or water pollution, greenhouse gases, use water, require mining or drilling for fuel, or generate hazardous waste that requires permanent storage. As a result, wind represents the lowest impact form of utility-scale energy generation available to our society today. This is further reinforced by the findings of a qualitative
    analysis conducted in 2009 on behalf of the New York State Energy Research
    and Development Authority (NSERDA), which found that of all the energy sources evaluated (i.e. coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and wind), wind energy has by far the lowest cradle-to-grave lifecycle impacts on wildlife and their habitats.

    Additionally, as noted in a recent study released by the National Wildlife Federation, the single greatest threat to birds is the impact climate change is having on wildlife populations and our environment overall. Wind power reduces greenhouse gases more than any other energy option — on average, a single wind turbine will avoid over 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 500 cars off the road. At current installed capacity of over 60 GW, that’s equivalent to 17.4 million cars.

    For more information on why nationally recognized wildlife protection leaders such as the National Wildlife Federation endorse developing responsibly-sited wind energy, please visit: http://www.aweablog.org/blog/post/in-face-of-changing-climate-major-wildlife-group-calls-for-renewable-energy.

    At the end of the day, the decision America faces is how we will
    power our country and make choices after weighing all the costs and benefits. All things considered, wind energy is the right choice.

    John Anderson, Director of Siting Policy, American Wind Energy Association.

    • Alec Sevins

      American Wind Energy Assn. (propagandist) wrote:

      “…and while some birds do occasionally collide with wind turbines, modern wind power plants are cumulatively far less harmful to birds than other man-made structures, human activities, and sources of energy generation.”

      Get real. Looking at the figures in this bird-kill study, how can you correlate them with “occasionally?”

      The comparison to other power plants is a vague statement with no examples to back it up. Why do you people constantly downplay the ugly side of these 400-foot towers? You make money off them, that’s why. Oldest story of human nature. You care a lot more about power generation and bank volume than the integrity of nature.

      • Mary

        Thank you, Alec. The AWEA was quite upset when their policy document from an annual meeting held in California hit the internet, mostly because they did not express environmental concerns or electrical generation concerns but expressed $$$ and public perception concerns. Of great concern was how they could kill California Condors without raising public ire. At the 2012 USGS meetings in Washington, DC the industry said they would only turn over post-construction mortality figures if the information could be deemed “Trade Secret”. This was desired because, according to the industry, public support for this form of electrical generation would be severely impacted if this information was available to the US taxpayers.

  • Tundra Swans

    If the wind industry cares so much about bird impacts why is there a huge proliferation of wind turbine projects on important migration routes on or perilously close to Important Bird Areas of continental & global significance all over southern Ontario and on the Great Lakes? There are wind projects on IBA’s Wolfe Island, Amherst Island, East Lake St. Clair, Rondeau Park & Thedford Flats to name a few as well as the north shore of Lake Erie near Hawk Cliff, a hawk migration hotspot where raptors of every description including bald eagles live & migrate through. The north shore of Lake Erie near Hawk Cliff is also an important migration spot for Monarch butterflies. We have mentioned only the projects in Ontario but there are many in the U.S. as well. Wind projects and birds do not mix and they do not belong any where near Important Birds Areas or on migration routes.

    • Alec Sevins

      Good points. Turbine installers aren’t much different than frackers and coal miners. They are in the business of extracting energy and disregarding negative side effects to the land and wildlife. Same old mentality. Don’t be fooled by the superficial green badge. The lack of fossil fuel use in wind turbines (AFTER construction, that is) blinds many pseudo-environmentalists to their blatant downsides.

  • Alec Sevins

    Future plans for literally millions of these eyesores render current bird kill figures misleading. Anyone who thinks that putting huge spinning towers in rural areas won’t affect quality of life in many realms is deluded. Comparisons are often made to bird kills from city skyscrapers, but that’s specious because wind turbine bird kills are in *addition* to those existing numbers, and bound to grow. This is a highly intrusive technology no matter how it’s spun.

  • Belle13A

    Currently USFWS at the request of and guided by the wind industry is developing an 8 State Habitat Plan that will allow wind developers to install their facilities free of prosecution.
    The plan calls for wind development in the Upper Great Lakes Region. Enough turbines to provide 25% of the total renewable energy for the entire US.
    This Great Lakes region is the migratory flyway for much of the worlds bird population. If this plan moves forward and turbines are erected this flyway will be effectively cut off in the middle, putting millions if not billions of migratory birds in harms way 2 times a year. Extinction of some species like the whooping crane could occur.
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
    Fish and Wildlife Service
    [FWS–R3–ES–2012–N179;
    FXES11120300000F2–123–FF03E00000]
    Draft Midwest Wind Energy Multi-
    Species Habitat Conservation Plan
    Within Eight-State Planning Area
    AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service,
    Interior
    Covered Land
    The planning area encompasses the
    Midwest Region of the Service and
    includes all or portions of the following
    eight States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
    Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio,
    and Wisconsin.
    ITPs could be issued under the MSHCP in the permit area.
    Individual take authorizations could be developed for those areas
    outside of this planning effort.
    Covered Activities
    The activities proposed to be covered under the MSHCP
    include the siting, construction,operation, maintenance, and
    decommissioning of wind energy facilities within all or portions of the
    eight-State planning area

    • Pete Danko

      I believe the whooping crane is being addressed under the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan. Here’s a PDF Fact Sheet (20 MB): http://www.greatplainswindhcp.org/documents/fact_sheet.pdf

      • Belle13A

        This reads like a plan to issue ITP’s. It certainly does not look like a protection plan. Thanks for sharing. Adding this to the 8 State Habitat Plan and we have an all out push to issue license to kill all species of birds whether endangered or not throughout the US to promote wind energy.

        • Pete Danko

          It is an effort to establish a habitat conservation plan, which is necessary to receive incidental take permits. See See 16 USC § 1539 – Exceptions, (a) (2) (A). http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/16/1539

          • Belle13A

            Exactly my point. And who is involved in the discussions?

          • Pete Danko

            I’m not sure I really understand your comment or your question, but as habitat conservation plans are required of those making application for incidental take permits, this habitat conservation plan is required of of “the wind industry” (AWEA and many companies). Who is in involved is who wishes to be involved through a well-established public process.

          • Mary

            Pete, I wish the process was as straight forward, transparent and untarnished as you seem to believe it is, but that is not the case. “Risk” as defined by biologists who work for wind companies is VERY different from “risk” as defined by our actual wildlife agencies. Risk for developers is “anything that may cause a project to NOT be Permitted, Sited, or constructed in accordance with the Plan selected by the Developer. In the document explaining this it is stated that “Science is not important. Permitting is political. PERCEPTIONS = reality.” For our wildlife agencies, risk is anything that poses a risk to critical habitat that supports breeding, nesting, foraging activities for species of animals. A recent USFWS survey showed a 56% decrease in nesting/breeding activity by ducks in areas where we have allowed industrial wind. A previous USDA wind study done at Buffalo Ridge cited a 47% loss of raptor abundance in areas where we have sited industrial wind. These types of losses represent a perceived loss of habitat by these species, which is the #1 cause of extinction. If you think the HCP for whooping cranes is succeeding, you have not been reading the complaints by the retired USFWS official who tracked their recovery for years, only to watch their numbers dwindle as industrial wind came to their critical habitat and migratory pathways. Wind developers CRAFT HCP’s to mitigate risk to the developer, not wildlife. If the labor is intensive i would suggest that it is because CRAFTING a report that creates the perception that you have done the work and used science without drawing attention to the fact that you the report is not worth the paper it is written on is, indeed, time consuming. Perception does NOT equal reality when dealing with ecological balance. I find it completely disingenuous when people claim wind energy is somehow environmentally responsible when their surveys, HCP’s and “benefits” are based on perceptions and they know it.

          • Pete Danko

            I never said the HCP process is “straight forward, transparent and untarnished.” Or not. Or that the process is “succeeding” for whooping cranes. Or not.

            (Readers mystified at what we are talking about here might find the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s page “Explanation of the HCP Development Process” helpful: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/permits/hcp/hcp_develop.html)

          • Mary

            “Who is in involved is who wishes to be involved through a well-established public process.” What, precisely, do you mean by this sentence, Pete?

          • Pete Danko

            Please see the link in my previous reply.

          • Mary

            The URL is not working, but I’ll Google it and read. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at the “big” picture to understand what is really happening, Wind energy has no environmental benefit but is sold with hype and perception, the real goal is power:

            From an outstanding book with contributions from some of the world’s brightest political analysts. The second sentence is of utmost importance.

            NATIONAL SECURITY AND WORLD GOVERNMENT

            Economic conquest is an integral part of America’s military adventure. The U.S. military and intelligence apparatus consults with Wall Street and the Texas oil giants. Conversely, the IMF and the World Bank, which have a mandate to supervise macroeconomic reform in developing countries, are in liaison with the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon.

            Economic warfare supports Washington’s military roadmap. The manipulation of market forces through the imposition of strong “economic medicine” under the helm of the IMF supports U.S.-NATO strategic and geopolitical objectives. Similarly, the speculative attacks waged by powerful banking conglomerates in the currency, commodity and stock markets are acts of financial warfare. They seek to destabilize the monetary systems of nation states.

            Historically, warfare has been an instrument of economic conquest. U.S. foreign policy and the Pentagon’s war plans are intimately related to the process of economic globalization.
            -Michel Chossudovsky

          • Pete Danko
          • Belle13A

            This was exactly where I was going on “Who is involved?” The established public process takes place by and large without the publics knowledge or input. As with the 8 State Habitat Plan the public ran across it by accident and demanded a seat at the table. True bird experts/ornithologists should have a chance to weigh in not just wind developers bent on directing the discussion. The public is often not welcome and is criticized as not credible or emotional.

          • Mary

            BOEM is working with the USGS on the sea duck study. They are concerned about the wave effect from 7 MW turbines in the ocean, and no one knows what the known low-frequency noise and infrasound will do to sea mammals. But science isn’t really important so supporters of industrial wind will plow ahead with the notion that we’ll kill them now and fix it later. If there is a later.

          • Mary

            The AWEA has had “by invitation only” meetings with USFWS officials at the highest levels. They were also “leaked” preliminary copies of the Land Based Wind Energy Guidelines, after which they were given a seat at the drafting table to make sure the new Guidelines brought “economic certainty to developers and investors”. Pete Danko appears to have been distracted by how they say the process works, and has failed to watch to see how it is actually working, or as we see here, how it is not working. The oil, gas and coal companies behave the same way and the wind industry squawks and screams – while replicating the behavior. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain….. You, like me, seem to have lifted the rock and have found the wind slugs slithering about in the dark. Perhaps Pete Danko will do the same. In any case, thank you for your posting. It’s good to know there are others who see that the Emperor of Wind has no Clothes.

    • Mary

      Belle13A – Given the FACT that there have been no environmental studies or surveys related to industrial wind, and given the fact that the AWEA policy document does not mention environmental initiatives AT ALL, it has become crystal clear to me that this agenda has nothing to do with saving the planet, addressing global climate change, or true sustainability. This is a political maneuver, a power play, if you will. CO2 follows warming, not the other way around and even if it was scientifically speaking, reversed, industrial wind does absolutely nothing to reduce CO2 emissions because it is supplemental. This devastating, disastrous and deceitful agenda is being covered by the perception propaganda. It is despicable.

      • Pete Danko
        • Mary

          Not a valid scientific study, Pete. Wind and wildlife studies require boots on the ground with proven survey methodology. As of December 5, 2012, the US government was beginning to try to figure out how to conduct surveys. The “Union of Concerned Scientists” report you linked uses perceptions, not actual facts gathered in the scientific method. Currently we know, using science, that there is an immediate 47% loss of raptor abundance where we site industrial wind. USGS surveys and impact studies on sea ducks is on-going but will not be completed for at least two more years. Preliminary results prove that we assume much about sea duck movements and that most of these are wrong. A recent survey on breeding/nesting ducks shows a 56% loss of ducks. An IA DNR agent’s research was denied publication because it would damage their political goal’s related to industrial wind: 42% loss of non-raptor species where industrial wind is sited. These are the immediate impacts using science, from actual scientists in the field: data without bias. What this tells us is that the immediate impacts on birds are tremendous and represent a significant loss of habitat. The impacts from Noise is only now being studied to see the relationship between loss of species (raptors) and loss of prey (rabbits and such) who are forced to leave because of ground vibrations and pain as their tympanic membrane is much thinner than other animals and so they are more susceptible to pain/rupture than other species of mammal. Union of Concerned Scientists. Hahahahaha! Something valid, please.

  • Belle13A

    . As the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote recently:

    (W)e don’t have to choose between healthy and abundant eagle populations and scaling up wind generation to meet our energy needs. That’s a false choice we don’t have to make. What we do need to do is work together—wind energy companies, environmentalists, landowners, policy makers and others—to find the right balance here.

    This is a disingenuous statement meant to deceive.
    The choice has already been made by the Natural Resource Defense Council.
    It has made the choice to sacrifice wildlife on the “Green Alter,” to promote a poor energy source that funnels tax and ratepayer money to foreign corporations and Wall St.at the same time raising energy prices effecting the poor and vulnerable the most. At the same time manufacturing will move to locations with lower utility costs displacing more American workers leading to more poverty in this country as jobs move to foreign soil with cheap energy!

    • Mary

      I do believe Global Research recently published an article that betrayed that the Natural Resources Defense Council has received more public funding for the global green agenda than any other “environmental” organization. Apparently their support for a particular political agenda is for sale and the AWEA purchased them.

  • Belle13A

    A published study has concluded that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were killed by wind power in 2012. The figure on birds – which includes 83,000 raptors – is about 30 percent higher than the 444,000 estimate by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist in 2009, when the U.S. had about half as much installed wind capacity.
    The 30% higher than estimated figure is extremely alarming if one considers we only receive about 2% of our energy from wind now and the current plans call for at least 25% from wind in future. How many turbines and how much land mass in bird & bat habitat will this mean? We already know the 8 State Habitat Plan and Mr. Danko mentions the Great Plains Plan also. Both in Migratory Flyways wit wind developers negotiating w/USFWS for mitigation plans that allow ITP’s and freedom from prosecution. Mitigation always puts a number on how many kills will be allowed by the developer. Never do we hear that an area is off limits. We have already seen ITP’s for Ca. Condors and Whooping cranes are next. Even the most endangered are not protected!
    America’s wildlife is for sale to foreign corporations & Wall St.

    • Pete Danko

      The thing I’m trying to figure out is whether it was increased turbine size, better siting, better forecasting or some other factor that allowed wind to increase installed capacity 100 percent while estimated bird fatalities increased at a much slower rate (30 percent, at least comparing Smallwood’s 2013 estimate to Manville’s 2009 estimate).

      Oh, one small correction to your post: Wind is up to 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity production, although much higher in a number of states. We’re written about it, but Earth Policy Institute had a real nice post earlier this year with all the relevant data: http://www.earth-policy.org/data_highlights/2013/highlights37

      • Mary

        What I’m trying to figure out is why people believe installed capacity has anything to do with actual production. As for bird mortality increasing at a slower rate…. You cannot make that claim since there is no standardized methodology to determine mortality and post-construction mortality reports are not available to USFWS or state regulatory bodies. It is a fact, Pete Danko, that the industry told Brenda Pierce of the USGS that they would not report mortality figures to the USFWS, USGS or other agency unless the data could be cloaked with Trade Secret status. The reason they gave was, “Public support for wind energy would wane if mortality figures ever became available.” Bat mortalities are worse as bats are not just a desirable species but are a “keystone” species. This means that without bats the ecosystems they support will collapse. O&M workers at three facilities said they have been instructed to take the shovel from the maintenance shed and “bury the bodies beyond the gravel at the base. There are “always” dead bats. These are NOT to be reported. Again, you only promote the data that supports your political agenda, which is a far cry different from an environmentally responsible agenda. The full build out scenario for industrial wind spells ecological disaster. With “fixes” like this we don’t need to worry about global climate change.

        • Pete Danko

          Fair point on generation being, in many ways, a better gauge of wind power’s progress than installed capacity.

          While installed U.S. wind power capacity was increasing 100 percent from the end of 2008 to the end of 2011, generation was increasing 130 percent, from 52,000,000 megawatt-hours to 120,000,000 MWh.

          • Mary

            Thanks, Pete. Where are you getting your generation data from? (This is supposedly Trade Secret so I wonder about the source.) And then, when is this power produced. In the Midwest we get most of our wind energy production occurring at night, when it can not be used or sold, but utilities are forced to buy it. This was the cause of the $110 million loss cited by the MREA. 70% of the wind energy produced fit the “cannot be used and cannot be sold” scenario. Generation is rather meaningless if you cannot get the power when you need it, where you need it. There are no means by which to store this currently on the horizon.

          • Pete Danko

            While data from individual wind power plants can be challenging to find, the U.S. Energy Information Administration provides overall monthly and YTD totals in its Electric Power Monthly report.

          • Mary

            Thanks, Pete. I’ll take a look at that, but I do know that at least two people have gone to prison for reporting and selling wind power when they were not actually connected to the grid and/or transmitting power. Do you know who reports the data to the EIA? Is it the utility?

  • Mary

    Pete Danko, you try to represent yourself as a “journalist” and yet you have absolutely no desire to challenge yourself to critically and independently think about the important environmental topics related to global climate cycles and impacts on flora and fauna. I think you would benefit from taking a step back – IF you are able – to read information that does not necessarily support the view/path you would like us to take in order to bring balance to your leanings and writings. Are you RE-AMP funded?

    • Pete Danko

      Never heard of RE-AMP. My work on renewable energy news is funded, barely (I say that with enormous respect and gratitude to my good friend, EarthTechling editor Nino Marchetti) and exclusively by EarthTechling.

      • Mary

        And who funds them?

        • Pete Danko

          LOL.

          • Mary

            As I thought…..