Lake Erie wind project not safe for birds

Jim Wiegand
20 November 2013

To the Editor, North American Windpower:

I am contacting you about a recent article, “Icebreaker ‘safe for birds, bats’” because it truly was one-sided and misleading to readers. I would like to add that I do not believe this was intentional.

The expert quoted for the article made the following statement “Biologically significant impacts to any bird or bat species, including those that are endangered and threatened, are highly unlikely”. The article also went on to say that Mr. Kerlinger drew upon survey data collected at the project location and reviewed the impacts on birds and bats of offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the United States. I will explain to your readers why these statements have no meaning, are completely unreliable, and should be completely dismissed.

I would like to point out that the European Wind Energy Association in a report published about a year ago, “Birds and offshore wind farms” says something entirely different. In their opening paragraph this statement was made “For offshore wind, there is little knowledge regarding certain aspects, such as collision mortality”. The first offshore wind farm was constructed 22 years ago in Denmark in 1991 and little is still known about offshore wind turbine collision mortality.

While this may seem amazing to some it makes a little more sense when one realizes that off shore wind turbine impacts cannot be studied with conventional wind industry methodology. Those methods call for searching around turbines for carcasses and then making calculated estimates. This cannot be done with offshore turbines because bodies drift away and remains quickly become fish food.

The obvious thoughts to most reading this are that there are other ways to get this information: Cameras. It would be so easy and inexpensive to do with 24 hour video surveillance on a few select turbines.

So why has this not been done? It never will because this visual truth about the wind industry’s ongoing bird and bat genocide would be revealed. It has not been done for the same reasons that it has not happened on land based wind turbines. It would be this self-proclaimed green industry’s worst nightmare The site of peregrine falcons, bald eagles or species for that matter being cut in half would not sit well with the public and the mortality numbers reveled would be staggering. In addition video footage can also not be manipulated or rigged like the land based mortality studies.

As for wind turbine impacts everyone accepts the fact that turbine blades kill birds and bats. What the public does not grasp is that these studies are rigged to not find carcasses. The wind industry only uses carcasses found in their “designated” search areas to estimate mortality. I happen to have evidence that shows over 90% of bird and bats smashed by turbine blades fall past the outer reach of turbine blade tips. In other word if a turbine blade is 50 meters then over 90% of the carcasses will be found beyond 50 meters from towers. Carcasses are primarily not looked beyond the blade tips and the industry pretends they do not even exist.

The industry has many other tricks that are used to hide or not report mortality. Some studies I have looked have likely concealed tens of thousands of fatalities. I recently looked over a 7 month study that I believe concealed over 25,000 bat fatalities and over 5000 bird fatalities. This was just 28 2.5 MW turbines and searches for carcasses amounted to about 56% of a 50 distance from towers. These turbines had blades 50 meters in length. These turbines are also located in the known habitat of the endangered Indiana bat. How many of the unreported 25,000 bats were of this species? We will never know.

So when any paid wind industry expert or spokesmen says that “significant” impacts are “highly unlikely” remember they are relying on data taken from unscientific wind industry studies designed to not find carcasses. In the case for offshore wind farms, instead of passing judgment when so little is actually known they should be demanding reliable data.

While there is little known about the mortality impacts from offshore wind farms I will point out some obvious impacts that are known. (1) Land based wind turbines are prolific killers of birds and bats. (2) The mortality footprint of every wind turbine extends several thousand miles because of the migration patterns of birds and bats. (3) Any footings or exposed edges on the bases of off shore turbines towers will create perching opportunities and attract birds. (4) Wind turbine footings will attract fish and these fish will attract fish eating bird species. (5) Fog and mist collect over bodies of water and this will reduce visibility for birds making blade collisions more likely. (6) Bad weather conditions can force birds to fly at considerably lower altitudes and coupled with bad visibility, potential perching opportunities, and the attraction or disorientation from lights will increase turbine blade collisions. (7) At a wind farm shortly after being constructed off the coast of Spain (Port of Bilbao) workers found two peregrine falcons cut in half.

The truth is that the construction of six or up to nine 3MW Siemens wind turbines in Lake Erie should not even be considered until reliable information is obtained and the full impacts disclosed to the public.

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