Wind power Introduction
Wind energy development in Alberta is currently focused on the Grassland Natural region. Although native grasslands are only five percent of Alberta’s land base, they support approximately half of the rare ecological communities, 40% of rare vascular plant species and 70% of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species considered “at risk” or “may be at risk” in Alberta (Bradley 2010). Alberta currently has no process to avoid wind development on native grasslands.
Wind energy development can also have significant negative impacts on local bird and bat populations, and on migratory birds and bats. Extensive local studies are needed at the earliest stages of wind power developments to minimize impacts on birds and bats. Certain areas which are known to be important for migratory birds or bats, such as ridgetops and wetlands, should be avoided entirely. In other regions, measures should be implemented to minimize collisions, such as increased cut-in speeds for wind turbines, and turbine shut-down during times of day and times of year crucial to bat migration. Continual monitoring of wildlife collisions should be mandatory, including suspension of operation of turbines known to be responsible for high numbers of wildlife mortality.
AWA believes that wind energy development must be regulated in a manner that is consistent with the maintenance of wilderness values. There is a fundamental need for the maintenance of wilderness that is free of industrial incursion. Though wind energy has the reputation of being a “green” energy source, it still has the potential to do considerable harm to wilderness values. Potential effects include direct mortality of wildlife, particularly birds and bats, as well as fragmentation of already-depleted native prairie ecosystems.
AWA is opposed to any siting of wind turbines, transmission lines of other infrastructure on native prairie (whether this is on deeded land or on public land).