Wind Power and Wildlife Issues in Kansas

Wind Power Position

Executive Summary

Wind power is the fastest growing form of renewable or "green" energy in the United States, and Kansas has been ranked third in the nation for its potential wind resources. Early concerns for wildlife relative to wind energy centered mainly on bird mortality from collisions with wind turbines and power lines. Siting of wind power facilities on native intact prairie appears likely to cause avoidance or complete abandonment of otherwise suitable habitats by some grassland birds. Research at a Minnesota wind facility found nesting densities of grassland birds four times greater in grasslands that were 180 meters from wind turbines compared to grasslands within 80 meters of turbines (Leddy et al., 1999). Studies in Europe have also documented bird avoidance of wind power facilities (Winkelman, 1990; Pedersen et al., 1991). Many native prairie regions in Kansas are known to have high wind power potential. Numerous resident and migratory wildlife species depend upon native prairie habitats. In addition to forcing habitat abandonment, commercial wind power projects could effectively fragment native prairie habitats.

It is the position of KDWP:

(1) That wind power facilities should be sited on previously altered landscapes, such as areas of extensive cultivation or urban and industrial development, and away from extensive areas of intact native prairie, important wildlife migration corridors, and migration staging areas.
(2) To recommend adherence to the siting guidelines for wind power projects Siting Guidelines for Windpower Projects in Kansas produced by the Kansas Renewable Energy Working Group (www.kansasenergy.org/documents/KREWGSitingGuidelines.pdf).
(3) To support the study of and establishment of standards for adequate inventory of plant and animal communities before wind development sites are selected, during construction, and after development is completed (Manes et al., in review). The resultant improvement in available knowledge of wind power and wildlife interactions obtained through research and monitoring should be used to periodically update guidelines regarding the siting of wind power facilities.
(4) That mitigation is appropriate only if significant ecological harm from wind power facilities cannot be adequately addressed through proper siting.
(5) To support the establishment of processes to ensure a comprehensive and consistent method in addressing proposed wind power developments.
(6) To advocate the direct coupling of energy conservation and efficiency programs with any new measures aimed at increasing energy supply whether renewable or conventional.