GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. – Endangered bats in two West Virginia counties now have an edge when it comes to survival.
Beech Ridge Energy signed off on a permit with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In order to reduce the number of Indiana Bat and Virginia Big Eared Bats, both on the endangered species list, killed by wind turbines, the company will implement new procedures as part of a Habitat Conservation Plan.
Meagan Racey is with the USFWS. She said the company, which already has built 67 turbines, was give the green light to build 33 more last week. That brings the total up to 100, provided they take steps to save the bats.
“To adjust operations at time when bats are most active,” according to Racey.
That, of course, happens after dark.
“So what they’ll do is adjust turbines when wind speeds are low. This is below 4.8 meters per second, for five hours per night, between sunset and sunrise, in the late summer and early fall,” explained Racey. “This is the time when the bats are most likely to encounter the turbines.”
Racey said the Beech Ridge Project is one of the first of its kind pilot program.
“Our plan is to continue working with wind companies like Beech Ridge Energy and use this plan to help us work with other companies to reduce effects to protect wildlife as much as possible.”
The Habitat Conservation Plan also calls for Beech Ridge to do research off-site to find other ways to protect the bat species.
The permit is good for 25 years.