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Apex biologist refutes claims from letter writer, says Lighthouse Wind working to benefit wildlife resources

Posted 14 February 2017 at 12:44 pm

Editor:

As a professional biologist and head of the Apex Clean Energy environmental program, I take exception to Ms. Christine Bronson’s mischaracterization of my statements in her letter to the Orleans Hub dated Feb. 2, 2017.

In response to a question asked at a Yates Carlton Sportsman’s Club meeting on lake setbacks, I accurately and honestly described the source and history of a United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) comment. This explanation was responsive to the question that was asked and put the FWS comment into context. There was no denial or memory lapse as Ms. Bronson falsely alleged.

The FWS (East Lansing, Michigan) field office did recommend that no turbines be sited within three miles of the shoreline at a Delta County, Michigan wind project located on the Garden Peninsula in Lake Michigan (click here).

Ms. Bronson’s attempt to persuade readers to believe that FWS has made this recommendation for Lighthouse is simply not true. In fact, in a May 2015 FWS letter to the Lighthouse Wind project referenced by Ms. Bronson, that recommendation is referenced but not prescribed for Lighthouse Wind. The FWS letter provides substantial technical input on wildlife study protocols and existing information on the site and region, and is evidence of the detailed coordination that has taken place for the project early in development.

The Michigan project was built and has been operating since September 2012 with similar bird mortality rates to projects sited well away from Great Lakes shorelines and consistent with national averages. The concerns behind the FWS setback recommendation for the Michigan project (regarding potential bird collisions due to its proximity to the shoreline and location in an important avian migratory pathway) were not realized. And, in recent years, this same outcome has been demonstrated at multiple operating wind projects located along the Great Lakes and the Texas Gulf Coast, all within areas of seasonally concentrated avian migration similar to the Lighthouse project area.

I stand by my response to the question posed in the Yates Carlton Sportsman’s Club meeting and the fact that Apex takes environmental compliance very seriously.  We continue to work closely with FWS and NYSDEC on this project to identify and understand environmental concerns and ensure that reasonable precautions are taken to develop, construct and operate it in a responsible manner.

All wind projects do result in change, and do have some level of impact; however, our goal for this project is that any significantly adverse wildlife impacts are mitigated in a manner that results in a net conservation benefit for affected species.  In other words, installation of the project should ideally benefit the wildlife resources overall.

I invite those interested to learn the facts to contact the Lighthouse Wind development team at their office (lighthousewind.com).

Sincerely,

Dave Phillips

Director of Environmental & Wildlife Permitting

Apex Clean Energy