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Wildlife Rule May Halt U.S. Wind-Turbine Projects, Group Says

February 16th, 2011

(Bloomberg) – The Obama administration’s guidelines to help wind-energy developers identify sites that pose the least risks to birds and wildlife will delay projects and cost jobs, the American Wind Energy Association said today.
The Interior Department proposal is aimed at protecting Golden Eagles from flying into spinning turbines, which the agency said are a threat to birds as the industry expands. Collisions are a “major source of mortality” in regions of the U.S. West, according to a department fact sheet.

The trade group for producers such as Arlington, Virginia- based AES Corp. and Dusseldorf, Germany-based E.On AG said the siting proposal may delay projects for as long as three years, increase costs and force operators to shut turbines at certain times of the year.

The agency plan will have a “serious impact on the ability for our industry to develop,” Denise Bode, chief executive officer of the Washington-based trade group, told reporters. Protecting the Golden Eagle may prevent 34,000 megawatts of development and $68 billion in investment, according to the group.

Interior released the guidelines Feb. 8 and is seeking comments through early May.

Developers are being urged to follow the guidelines as a way to reduce legal risks if a Golden Eagle, which has been protected by law since 1962, or other wildlife, dies by flying into a turbine blade, according to the Interior Department fact sheet.

The wind-energy industry is expanding as the U.S. seeks to lower pollution and create clean-energy jobs through renewable energy standards and tax policies.

Wind producers had capacity to generate 2,200 megawatts of electricity in 1999. By the end of 2009, the industry expanded to more than 34,000 megawatts. One megawatt can power about 800 average U.S. homes.

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By Jim Snyder

Glossary Terms

Glossary Terms

Nominated Volume

The physical quantity of gas requested, typically in MMBtu/day, for a specific contract or for all contracts at a specific point.

Marketing Affiliate

A marketing company that has corporate ties to an interstate pipeline, an intrastate pipeline, or a local distribution company.

Energy Only Providers

Power marketers or other electricity vendors who provide and bill for only the energy component of the electricity consumed by the end-use customer.

Therm

A unit of heating value equivalent to 100,000 British thermal units (Btu).

Real Power

The component of electric power that performs work, typically measured in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (MW)--sometimes referred to as Active Power.

Injection (Storage)

The process of delivering natural gas into a storage field for future delivery and use.

Price Ceiling

Statutory maximum lawful prices for various categories of natural gas, including gas destined for both the intrastate and interstate markets.

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