At MidAmerican Energy, our focus on the environment goes beyond our strides in renewable energy and our pursuit of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions – we are also committed to minimizing and mitigating the impacts our wind projects have on bald eagles and certain species of bats.
Take a look at the measures included in our Habitat Conservation Plan – which we developed with the guidance and approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – and learn about the ways we work to keep our friends in the sky safe.
A SHIFT IN THE WINDS
To reduce the chances of aerial wildlife coming into contact with a spinning turbine blade, we adjust when and how our turbines operate during key seasons based on bird and bat behavior. In the evening, from April through November – when bats are most active – we program our turbines in certain regions to only spin on high wind days when bats are not generally flying that high. These measures significantly lower the risk of bats coming into contact with turbine blades.
HELPING EAGLES SOAR
We want everyone who works or lives near our wind turbines to know how they can reduce the odds of bald eagles coming into contact with a blade. Our wind technicians are trained in wildlife search protocols when they’re on-site, and the landowners are educated about the importance of removing items that could attract eagles near turbines.
Additionally, our Habitat Conservation Plan includes a $1.6 million eagle conservation fund. Part of that funding goes toward partnering with Saving Our Avian Resources (SOAR), an organization based in Dedham, Iowa, that has been dedicated to raptor rehabilitation, education and research for more than 20 years. SOAR takes in sick or injured bald eagles and other raptor birds, giving them care, food and shelter. They also provide education and conduct research on raptors all over the state. Each year, MidAmerican provides funding to SOAR to ensure they have the resources they need to help 10 bald eagles – the estimated annual number of eagles that come into contact with our wind turbines – recover from their ailments and return to the wild strong and healthy.
A HOME FOR BATS
The most important thing we do to minimize our wind fleet’s impact to bats is avoid building wind farms near heavily forested areas where bats thrive. We’ve also established an $8.1 million bat conservation fund, which is used to invest in making sure those bat-populated forests in Iowa are preserved and maintained.
Thus far, we have secured approximately 500 acres of woodland in Dallas, Guthrie and Davis counties for bat habitats. We’ve partnered with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to make these lands even more sustainable – planting trees, removing undergrowth that could fuel wildfires, controlled burning and building artificial bat roost houses. This is a significant step toward achieving our long-term goal of preserving and enhancing at least 1,300 acres of wooded bat habitat. We are currently reviewing more potential areas.
Our Habitat Conservation Plan continues to evolve to utilize the best-proven methods for minimizing turbine interaction with wildlife as our wind fleet grows and new research is published.
Do you have a question or suggestion for our Habitat Conservation Plan? We welcome your feedback.