Wind Power Compensation is not for the Birds: An Opinion from an Environmental Economist

Journal Article

Title: Wind Power Compensation is not for the Birds: An Opinion from an Environmental Economist
Authors: Cole, S.
Publication Date:
February 16, 2011
Journal: Restoration Ecology
Volume: 19
Issue: 2
Pages: 147-153
Publisher: Wiley
Receptor:

Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

Cole, S. (2011). Wind Power Compensation is not for the Birds: An Opinion from an Environmental Economist. Restoration Ecology, 19(2), 147-153.
Abstract: 

This article advocates for better implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) framework as applied to wind power development, with a particular focus on improving compensatory restoration scaling. If properly enforced, the environmental impacts hierarchy “avoid-minimize-compensate” provides the regulated community with incentives to prevent wildlife and habitat impacts in sensitive areas and, if necessary, compensate for residual impacts through restoration or conservation projects. Given the increase in legislation requiring resource-based environmental compensation, methods for scaling an appropriate quantity and quality of resources are of increasing relevance. I argue that Equivalency Analysis (EA) represents a transparent and quantitative approach for scaling compensation in the case of wind power development. Herein, I identify the economic underpinnings of environmental compensation legislation and identify weaknesses in current scaling approaches within wind power development. I demonstrate how the recently completed REMEDE toolkit, which provides guidance on EA, can inform an improved scaling approach and summarize a case study involving raptor collisions with turbines that illustrates the EA approach. Finally, I stress the need for further contributions from the field of restoration ecology. The success of ex ante compensation in internalizing the environmental costs of wind development depends on the effective implementation of the environmental impacts hierarchy, which must effectively encourage avoidance and minimization over environmental restoration and repair.

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