Missouri’s largest wind farm has been shut down at night since April 19 to avoid killing endangered and threatened bats. Is that good for environmental protection or throwing the baby out with the bathtub?
Missouri Wind Farm … and bats
The High Prairie Renewable Energy Center in northeast Missouri is currently the state’s largest wind farm. St. Louis-based electric utility Ameren Missouri bought High Prairie from a developer in 2020 and then went live.
Its 175 wind turbines are located on more than 60,000 hectares. It is capable of producing 400 megawatts of electricity, but it is not currently producing at full capacity.
That’s because the wind farm has had problems with bats (and birds) dying, a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows:
Because of the potential risk of including the endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and the federally threatened northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) during operations, Ameren applied for these species as well as the small brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). In the meantime, the project was operated under a Technical Assistance Letter (TAL) from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
To avoid potential impacts on the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat, the TAL required all turbines to coast below 6.9 meters per second (m / s) from 0.5 hours before sunset to 0.5 hours after sunrise when air temperatures were above 50 ° C from March 15 to October 31, based on the rolling 10-minute average at each turbine. Due to the death of a male Indiana bat on the project in September 2020, Ameren voluntarily increased preventive measures to cease turbine operation at temperatures above 50 ° F as of March 15, 2021. Another death was discovered on April 15, 2021; Ameren voluntarily ceased night operations on April 19, 2021, but continued monitoring after construction as part of the TAL until the ITP was issued on May 14, 2021.
To illustrate, spring formation occurs when the rotor blades of wind turbines are prevented from rotating when they are not in use. This can reduce bat deaths, which are higher in low winds, according to the Conservation Evidence website.
In addition, an incidental inclusion permit is a permit issued under Section 10 of the US Endangered Species Act to private, non-governmental entities that are conducting otherwise lawful projects that could result in the inclusion of an endangered or threatened species.
The report from June 2021 states that four bats and 52 birds were found dead in the wind farm. Ameren voluntarily stopped operating the wind farm at night from April.
The Missouri Office of the Public Counsel consumer advocacy group and Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, which advocates for large commercial and industrial power customers, want the amount customers pay to reimburse Ameren for the cost of the High Prairie wind farm because of the wind farm is currently not in operation at night.
Also, as a result of High Prairie’s nightly hiatus, there is also a risk that Ameren will not meet a state requirement this year that utilities generate at least 15% of their electricity from clean energy.
Once the migration and mating season is over this fall, High Prairie is likely to resume 24-hour operations. We asked Ameren about his plans for the wind farm on a phone call, and his spokesman said the utility would provide more, more specific updates shortly. But in the meantime, it has delivered its official statement from Ajay Arora, Ameren Missouri’s Chief Renewable Development Officer:
The High Prairie Renewable Energy Center started delivering clean energy to its customers more than nine months ago. It works every day for the benefit of all of our customers, and we expect it will continue to do so for decades to come. Ameren Missouri worked closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation throughout the site, construction, permit and current clean energy generation in High Prairie.
Ameren is being pressured by local and environmental groups to shut down turbines at night and the utility has taken this into account. Of course we have to protect endangered species and birds.
But are Missouri’s bats used as an excuse by groups that simply have nothing to do with clean energy, like the Canadian Mothers Against Wind Turbines, who “[protect] Children exposed to the effects of industrial wind turbines ”?
As Electrek discovered in late July (see “Read More” below) when a group of residents turned down a huge Nevada wind farm on behalf of animal welfare while happily spinning their ATVs through the desert, and Bloomberg was speaking to wildlife as an apology, Obstructing clean energy only makes the problems clean energy seeks to solve worse.
Climate change is destroying the natural habitats of animals and plants around the world. It will not be wind turbines that will wipe out endangered bats; it will be fossil fuel emissions and the resulting global warming.
Is a whitewash in the name of “environmentalism” to stop the surge in clean energy projects as the US moves to clean energy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Continue reading: The largest solar park in the United States is canceled because Nevada locals do not want to see it
Photo: Ameren Missouri
FTC: We Use Income Earning Auto Affiliate Links. More.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.