These guidelines have been developed collaboratively through a representative stakeholder group comprised of environmental representatives, county planners, wind energy developers, State and Federal natural resource managers and biologists, and the public with consideration for fish and wildlife habitat protection, conservation and mitigation related to the development of wind energy facilities. These guidelines are intended to provide permitting agencies and wind project developers with an overview of the considerations are made by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in the review of wind energy project proposals.
The purpose of the WDFW Wind Power Guidelines is to provide consistent statewide guidance for the development of land-based wind energy projects that avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to fish and wildlife habitats in Washington State.
In 2006, Washington voters approved legislation to require 15 percent of the electricity sold in Washington is derived from renewable energy resources by 2020 with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. Wind energy is expected to play a key role in meeting this renewable energy standard for energy production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
WDFW serves as Washington’s principal agency on species protection and conservation (RCW - Title 77). Legislative Mandate RCW 77.04.012 establishes that wildlife, fish, and shellfish are property of the state and that WDFW is entrusted by and through the Fish and Wildlife Commission to … “preserve, protect, perpetuate, and manage the wildlife and food fish, game fish, and shellfish…” and “… attempt to maximize the public recreational game fishing and hunting opportunities of all citizens…” Therefore, these wind power guidelines acknowledge the need for increased energy production in Washington, while attempting to balance natural resource protection with the broad interests of the public.
In Washington State, the developer of a new wind power generation facility has the option of pursuing a permit through either the local jurisdiction (cities and counties) or the state (Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).
Compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is required for wind energy proposals. WDFW is considered an agency with environmental expertise through SEPA and provides review and comments on environmental documents. The permitting authority is responsible for SEPA review before issuing a project permit. However, wind project developers and permitting agencies are encouraged to consult with WDFW as early as possible in the siting process to discuss the potential environmental impact of the development prior to formal SEPA review. Early consultation with WDFW can ultimately result in a more efficient review of the proposal with upfront discussion of potential impacts.