Spring Valley Wind Finally Protecting Bats

19th of Aug 2014

A recent article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal details Nevada’s Spring Valley Wind energy facility’s belated steps to curtail wind turbine operations to reduce the deaths of bats at the facility, which have been far higher than the developer and BLM predicted. The initial number predicted and allowable death limit was 169 for 2013, but the final tally of bats killed as a result of the facility totaled 566 – more than triple the allowed number.

On behalf of clients Western Watersheds Project and Center for Biological Diversity, in 2011 Advocates for the West challenged BLM’s approval of this facility due to its shoddy environmental review and the fact that it was built very close to the largest bat cave in Nevada’s Great Basin – a seasonal home to over one million Mexican free-tailed bats. After studying the area, biologists warned that bat deaths would be far higher than the estimate presented by BLM and the developer. One year later, that warning proved correct.

After we were unable to halt the facility’s construction in court, we reached an agreement with BLM and the developer under which the developer consented to funding the monitoring of bat and bird fatalities for several more years than had been planned. As part of the agreement, the monitoring data is sent directly to our clients, and BLM agreed to employ more shut-downs of the wind turbines to protect birds and bats if fatalities are higher than expected, which is what spurred this recent operations curtailment. 

Our clients continue to monitor the facility’s compliance with the fatality thresholds and will keep a close eye on whether the latest curtailments are effective.