Energy News Today

The Energy 202: How a Great Lakes wind farm may get beaten by birds

with Paulina Firozi

A plan to put hundreds of wind turbines in the waters of Lake Erie just had its wings clipped — by ornithologists and others concerned about their blades killing birds. 

As Zachary Lewis reports for The Post, what would be the nation’s first freshwater wind farm is in limbo after regulators in Ohio told wind developers that they need to do more work to understand how their turbines will impact migrating birds.

That the pilot project may have to be scuttled highlights how renewable energy projects — pursued to combat climate change — can hit some of the same environmental snags as that oil, gas and coal companies. 

At issue are a half-dozen turbines developers want to build northwest of Cleveland.

They would produce enough power for about 7,000 homes in a region largely reliant on coal and gas for electricity. 

But wildlife activists had argued millions of warblers and waterfowl that fly over the lake every spring and fall are at risk of getting killed by them.

Icebreaker Wind, as the project is called, officially has the blessing of the Ohio Power Siting Board to go forward. 

But last month, the board surprised proponents and opponents alike by requiring the developer, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., to conduct radar studies of bird and bat traffic over the proposed site.

Crucially, the board said operators cannot run the turbines at night during months-long migration periods until the research is completed.

“Of what value is a permit to build the project if you don’t have authority to operate it in a commercially viable manner?” Dave Karpinski, president of LEEDCo, told Lewis.

Icebreaker isn’t the only offshore wind project tied up with wildlife concerns.

A massive 84-turbine project near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts hit head winds last year after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management unexpectedly required more study on how the towers anchored to the sea floor could disturb fish. 

In a draft report released this month, the agency concluded the project would have “major impacts” on both the fishing industry and on poor and minority communities in southeastern Massachusetts that may have to contend with the extra noise and air pollution.

Another problem is President Trump, who often rails in speeches about the “bird graveyards” created under turbines. His administration, in turn, has leaned heavily into reducing regulations on the fossil fuel companies.

Read more here:

Power plays

The EPA fined Enbridge nearly $7 million over pipeline safety issues. 

Federal regulators fined the pipeline company $6.7 million over failing to fix pipeline safety issues in a timeline, the Star Tribune reports

“Enbridge announced Thursday that it has settled with the Environmental Protection Agency and agreed to pay the fines,…

Read More: The Energy 202: How a Great Lakes wind farm may get beaten by birds

2020-06-22 18:01:03

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