Five conservation groups and 10 leading wind energy companies in Colorado, along with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other stakeholders are paving the way of our future by developing best management practices or BMPs that will be used to ensure wind farms and nature can coexist. The Colorado Renewables and Conservation Collaborative (CRCC) will help Colorado meet its renewable energy goal of obtaining 30 percent of its electrical energy from renewable sources by 2020 in a wildlife friendly manner.
“Wind energy development could have an enormous impact on Colorado grasslands,” says William Burnidge, the Conservancy in Colorado’s grasslands program director. “That’s why it was critical that we partner with the wind industry to protect large areas of prairie habitat, wildlife and rare plants.”
“Building trust was a key element in the beginning which helped us better understand each other’s issues, set expectations and develop balanced practices,” adds Matt Heck, Business Developer, Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
The practices were designed to reduce impact to 12 important species and systems including hawks and eagles, native prairies and prairie chickens. Additionally, the Public Utilities Commission updated its renewable energy environmental rule by establishing a good faith expectation for use of the Best Management Practices (BMP).That means the BMPs that CRCC developed for wind energy and wildlife will be useful as a basis for evaluating industry’s efforts to reduce their impact.
Wind energy has provided a tremendous economic boost for rural communities across Colorado’s eastern plains while helping save urban consumers millions of dollars through cost-stable power generation, “ says Craig Cox, Executive Director, Interwest Energy Alliance. “CRCC’s work will help make possible more wind energy development, creating an economic boost with new jobs throughout the state.”
To make this information more widely available, the CRCC developed a website where visitors can download the BMPs. The website provides important information to developers by identifying what resources are important for conservation, where to locate potential project sites in relation to resources of conservation concern, and how to develop offsets for potential impacts if avoidance is impractical.
This groundbreaking collaborative effort is a win-win and sets a standard for conservation groups and wind industry leaders across the country. Burnidge adds, “We’re thrilled about the outcomes for people and wildlife and have built strong partnerships along the way.”
“Everybody sat around the table, rolled up their sleeves and really focused on how we can work together to develop wind power responsibly while protecting our wildlife,” said Al Trujillo, Energy Specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We now have a sound basis for evaluating wind farm proposals that can help support development of this clean secure energy source.”
The website offers background information, details about the best practices as well as information on all of the partners. Visit http://www.pljv.org/windandwildlife/.
You can request photos/video assets through the Iberdola Renewables, Inc. press room.
The Colorado Renewables and Conservation Collaborative (CRCC) is an informal group of representatives from the renewable energy industry and the conservation community whose common purpose is to constructively and proactively address conservation concerns related to renewable energy development in Colorado. Learn more about the CRCC at http://www.pljv.org/windandwildlife/co/crcc.php
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Colorado