Wind company looks at conservation plan to avoid bat conflict

By Michael Doyle | 06/04/2024 01:36 PM EDT

Habitat conservation plans are in the works at the Fish and Wildlife Service for wind projects that could harm various bat species.

Wind turbines spinning in Adair, Iowa.

Wind turbines spinning in Adair, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP

A major Iowa wind energy project could avoid colliding with federal plans for the tricolored bat, in the latest example of how a Fish and Wildlife Service tool might ease Endangered Species Act conflicts.

On Monday, the federal agency opened for public comment proposed amendments to what’s called a “habitat conservation plan” previously proposed for the Great Pathfinder Wind project. The revised plan would allow the turbines to cause up to 15 unintentional deaths of tricolored bats over the next five years.

In return, operators of the Great Pathfinder Wind project have agreed to refine turbine operations in order to reduce the risk of bat collisions. This would mean, for instance, that the turbine speeds would be adjusted depending on weather conditions.


“Great Pathfinder proposes to further support bat conservation through actions that may include participating in an approved conservation bank or mitigation fund, implementing mitigation projects or contributing to a fund devoted to treating white-nose syndrome,” the Fish and Wildlife Service noted.