On Friday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar praised the work of the 22-member Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee, which reached consensus on a set of draft recommendations aimed at minimizing the impacts of land-based wind farms on wildlife and its habitat.

In a press release, Salazar said he will review the recommendations and take them under advisement as he asks the Service to develop guidelines for evaluating wind energy development on public and private lands.

Highlights of the committee’s recommendations include:

  • A decision-making framework that guides all stages of wind energy development.
  • Reliance on the best available science when assessing renewable energy projects and their potential environmental impact.
  • Use of landscape-scaled planning that recognizes the need to think long-term about protecting our nation’s economic and natural resources.

The group was created in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and represents varied interests associated with wind energy development as well as wildlife management professionals. The committee does not address off-shore wind energy development.

Regarding offshore wind, The Energy Daily reported that on Mar. 2, the Interior Department said that opponents and proponents of the Cape Wind project have failed to resolve their differences over the proposed 468-MW wind farm offshore Cape Cod, meaning that the agency will decide on the project’s fate by April.

The Interior Department initiated negotiations in January in hopes of resolving concerns of Indian tribes who say the 130-turbine wind farm would interfere with their cultural practices. The agency gave stakeholders until Monday to reach a deal on mitigation actions.

The nation’s most advanced offshore wind project is now in the hands of Secretary Salazar, who has expressed frustration with the pace of the project’s application. The department will take 45 days of public comment before Salazar acts on the project, which was proposed in 2001.

Sources: The Energy Daily, Department of the Interior