IBERDROLA RENEWABLES and its subsidiaries (collectively, Iberdrola) believes that conservation of the environment must be integral to the conduct of company activities. As an environmentally conscious company, Iberdrola is committed to promoting development of clean energy production, with its associated environmental benefits, while limiting the adverse environmental effects that can be associated with such clean energy production. Iberdrola is also committed to sustaining that obligation during facility operations. Iberdrola recognizes that the development and operation of wind energy projects may have direct and indirect impacts on birds, bats, and other wildlife resources and their habitats. Direct impacts include strike mortality from turbine blades, power lines and related infrastructure, electrocution from overhead collector and transmission lines, and loss of habitat from the footprint of the project. Indirect impacts may include displacement of birds and bats and other wildlife from their habitats, site avoidance, and behavioral modification. This Avian and Bat Protection Plan (“ABPP” or “Plan”) supports practices and processes intended to minimize impacts to birds and bats from Iberdrola wind projects.
Iberdrola wind projects are subject to multiple Federal and state laws that protect birds and other wildlife and their habitats. Most birds in the United States are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)1. In addition, bald and golden eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), and some other species potentially found at wind project sites are protected by the Endangered Species Act. These laws provide for possible penalties for “take” of such species. “Take” under the MBTA is defined as to “pursue ,hunt, take, capture, kill…possess, offer for sale, sell…purchase…ship, export, import…transport or cause to be transported…any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of any such bird….” The MBTA and BGEPA do not include language that provides for the issuance of “incidental” or “accidental “permits to take protected birds that are killed incidental to otherwise lawful activities, and thus any death of a protected bird at a wind project is a violation of these statutes. 2 Wildlife protection statutes in many states have similar provisions (e.g., California’s “Fully Protected Species, Fish and Game Code”).
The goal of this ABPP is to implement a series of best practices for all of Iberdrola’s US wind activities, in order to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner to avoid or minimize and reduce risk to birds, bats and their habitats3. This ABPP is modeled on similar Avian Protection Plans (APPs) that have been developed by U.S. electric utilities to protect birdsand manage their risk under wildlife statutes—risk primarily associated with collisions and electrocution from overhead transmission and distribution lines and other utility equipment. Those plans were developed following the Avian Protection Plan (APP) Guidelines issued by the Edison Electric Institute’s Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or Service) in April 2005. Iberdrola worked with the USFWS to “translate” the wires-oriented APP guidelines to apply to the particular issues faced by a wind energy generation company. Because habitat fragmentation and bat mortality have emerged as concerns at wind projects in a number of locations around the country, Iberdrola has expanded the scope of the Plan to address these issues as well.
This ABPP applies to all of Iberdrola’s wind activities, including project development, construction, operations, and decommissioning, as well as any projects acquired from third parties. Iberdrola’s development pipeline had numerous projects in various stages of development or acquisition before this ABPP was developed. Therefore, most portions of the Plan are effective on approval of this plan by Iberdrola management, but other sections will be implemented over time (see Section 6, Implementation).
For each wind project constructed after January 1, 2010, Iberdrola will implement a projectspecific ABPP to address issues particular to the project site, and to outline how the corporate ABPP is applied to a specific project. The project-specific ABPP will summarize information about the project’s species and habitats, development-stage surveys and studies, post-construction monitoring, mitigation commitments, and other variables specific to each site that could affect wildlife and their habitats. An outline of a project-specific ABPP is provided in Appendix A.
A key element of this corporate ABPP and each project-specific ABPP will be discussion with the USFWS and other relevant wildlife agencies early in the development process (within the constraints imposed by competition for land rights and other competitive aspects of the business). Early-stage consultation may include telephone conversations, in-person meetings, database requests, and other information sharing. In all cases, Iberdrola expects discussion with the USFWS to occur before irretrievable commitments are made to develop a project.
In 2007, USFWS appointed a Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee (including an Iberdrola representative) to advise the USFWS about “effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats related to land-based wind energy facilities.” It is anticipated that once the USFWS has issued new guidelines, based in part on recommendations from the advisory committee, expected to be available in approximately two years, Iberdrola may revise the corporate ABPP as necessary. After that, the ABPP will be reviewed periodically and revised as necessarily to reflect new knowledge gained from current science as well as from Iberdrola experience with constructing and operating wind projects. All appropriate Iberdrola personnel involved in the development, operation, and oversight of Iberdrola wind projects will be trained in the development, implementation, and follow-up of this ABPP. Periodic audits will be conducted to confirm that Iberdrola’s activities continue to comply with its provisions.