Wind energy is a growing sector of the renewable energy industry. Although it is considered green energy because no greenhouse gases are emitted during operation, the potential implications to local flora and fauna resulting from increasing wind power development remain largely unknown.
GoalsHelp to avoid, minimize, and mitigate negative impacts of wind energy development and operation on local flora and fauna by facilitating communication among stakeholders regarding wind power development and operation, identifying and implementing priority research and monitoring efforts, and developing management tools and technical guidance materials.
A number of tools have been developed to educate stakeholders about wind energy and wildlife issues. The Nebraska Wind Energy and Wildlife Project website was developed in 2011 and is frequently updated to assist in informing wind energy developers and environmental consultants on policies and resources for Nebraska. More than 100 individuals from a diverse array of stakeholders have subscribed to the listserv used to disseminate wind energy and wildlife information. Emails sent out via the listserv approximately every two weeks contain Nebraska-specific information and nation-wide wind and wildlife news. Several informational handouts and brochures were developed including: Mitigation Guidelines for Wind Energy Development in Nebraska, Nebraska Bat Migration Project, and Nebraska Wind Conference: Wind Wildlife Session Presenters 2014.
A number of guidance documents have been or are currently being updated and/or developed. The Whooping Crane Operational Contingency Plan was developed for wind energy companies to use as a template. Due to more frequent sightings of whooping cranes outside of the historic migration corridor, an operational contingency is recommended for all wind energy facilities in Nebraska. The template was developed with input from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is freely available on-line. A sub-group of the Nebraska Wind and Wildlife Working Group developed a mitigation document including recommendations and a map for forthcoming wind energy developments. The document was open for review for six months. Comments were received from a wide-range of stakeholders. Based on comments, the map developed by the group was updated to include not only levels of mitigation in areas, but also the relative sensitivity of areas to wind energy development (siting information). The Guidelines for Wind Energy and Wildlife Resource Management and the Mitigation Guidelines for Wind Energy Development in Nebraska documents were merged into one comprehensive document that is currently under review. All of these documents have been developed with input from a variety of stakeholders.
A number of research projects related to wind energy and wildlife are currently being developed with stakeholders across Nebraska and beyond.