Montana Wind Energy Conference
Montana Renewable Energy Development, Wildlife, and Landscape Workshop
Kit Fischer and Ben Deeble
Montana is experiencing a clean energy boom; with vast acres of prairie available for wind developers, the state has attracted dozens of new green companies hoping to stake their claim in Montana’s open market.
In May 2010, the NWF Northern Rockies and Prairies Regional Center hosted a wind energy conference in Helena, MT, inviting state officials, industry professionals, and conservationists to discuss their thoughts on the future of wind development in Montana. NWF is committed to moving forward with a comprehensive effort to build a responsible renewable resource siting policy for Montana. We must identify the right policy choices and build the necessary public and legislative support to secure their adoption. Fundamentally, such a policy must promote the build-out of Montana’s wind and renewable resource portfolio, while also protecting the landscapes and the fish and wildlife resources that make Montana unique.
“There are right and wrong ways and places to develop wind energy,” said Ben Deeble, NWF’s Sage Steppe Coordinator. “We need to give the wind industry incentives to avoid areas most valuable to wildlife and scenic values, and to mitigate possible damages.”
Similar to conventional energy development, some of the same environmental concerns occur with wind development. Large tracts of land and infrastructure are necessary for wind farms to be profitable. Sage-grouse, bats, and migratory birds are often victims of wind turbines located in prime wildlife habitat. With a comprehensive siting policy, state officials, wind developers, and conservationists can move forward with green energy development while protecting key wildlife species.