AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The state can harness its significant wind resources for power and achieve its ambitious wind goals while also protecting its wildlife, according to a new report from one of its top wildlife conservation advocacy organizations.
The Maine Audubon report released Wednesday shows there are more than 1 million acres of land in the state with enough wind to develop power. Wind turbines can be developed with little impact to some wildlife and habitat resources on 84 percent of that, the report found.
Energy companies say they seek to provide wind power in the most environmentally friendly and responsible way possible. But wind power has been criticized by opponents in particular for the turbines' spinning blades, which can injure or kill birds and bats.
While any kind of development will have some impact on wildlife, the report's findings show wind turbines can be strategically placed to ensure the impact is minimal, said the report's author, Susan Gallo, a wildlife biologist.
"We can have those high standards, and we can have wind development in the appropriate places, because there is room on the landscape to have both," she said.
Gallo analyzed maps of the state's wind resources and wildlife resources — such as streams, lakes, wetlands and bird and fish habitats — to see where they overlap. But a statewide map of migratory bird corridors doesn't exist, for example, so not all wildlife resources could be considered, she said.
Bob Stratton, a fisheries and wildlife program support supervisor with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said the biggest concerns for the department surrounding wind turbines are with bats and birds.