Audubon NC Statement on Proposed Wind Development by Pantego Wind Energy LLC
Below is an overview of Audubon NC’s involvement in the proposed wind development project near Pantego, NC to date.
1) Both the National Audubon Society and Audubon North Carolina have adopted wind energy policy statements that support the development of responsibly sited wind energy projects in the United States and North Carolina. These policy statements are available at http://nc.audubon.org/issues-action/anc-wind-power-policy
and at http://policy.audubon.org/wind-power-overview-0.
2) Commercial wind has the potential to have impacts on birds through direct mortality (collisions), habitat loss from construction and connection to the electrical grid, habitat exclusion as birds avoid areas with turbines (which can reduce available breeding, foraging, or migratory habitats and pathways), and the cumulative effects of these factors at a landscape scale (wind resources tend to be clustered near certain geographic features like ridge lines or coast lines and so projects also tend to be clustered in these areas).
Audubon evaluates proposed commercial wind projects on the following 5 criteria as they relate to birds:
• Proximity to IBAs (Important Bird Areas)
• Habitat Loss
• Habitat Exclusion
• Rigor of Data Collection
• Cumulative Impacts
3) The Pantego Wind Project lies partially within Audubon’s Pungo-Pocosin Lakes IBA. This area supports thousands of wintering waterfowl including a high percentage of the eastern United States population of Tundra Swans, many other species of waterfowl, raptors and other species. It is located in the southwest corner of this IBA and includes areas normally used for foraging flights of wintering waterfowl, wintering blackbird flocks, and additional species of concern. The project area was identified as critical foraging habitat for wintering waterfowl during the analysis done for the Outlying Landing Field lawsuit.
4) Audubon NC is directly engaged with the review of this project both with other agencies and groups, as well as with direct meetings with the project developer (Invenergy).
5) On 11/15/11, Audubon NC provided written comments to the Utilities Commission regarding this project and has shared these comments and concerns widely with our partners in the Outlying Landing Field issue, state and federal agency representatives, national policy staff, and others.
6) Our cover letter to the Utilities Commission made two primary points:
• We are concerned that any project with the potential to impact this many birds in or near an Important Bird Area needs to show extremely high due diligence in pre-construction study, mitigation and adaptive management plans, and willingness to share data and issues in an open way including post construction operation and monitoring.
• There are many issues associated with construction of a wind facility in this sensitive area and the original documents filed with the Commission by Pantego Wind do not adequately address many of these concerns. We are asking the Commission to delay a decision on the Application for Public Convenience and Necessity based on the request of the state agencies tasked with reviewing the project through the state clearinghouse process.
For more information:
• Read the latest update on the project at Audubon NC’s blog.
• For more information on Audubon NC’s position on this project, please contact Curtis Smalling, Coordinator NC IBA Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.265.0198.