The biggest and most pervasive threat to Maine’s wildlife and habitat is climate change driven by carbon pollution. As the push for renewable energy increases, we strive to understand the impact of wind power development on wildlife and habitat, and support siting and operating of renewable wind energy in places and ways that avoid or minimize those impacts.
Our new report, Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine: Avoiding, Minimizing, and Mitigating Impacts to Wildlife and Habitat from Solar, Wind, and Transmission Facilities, describes the vulnerability of Maine’s wildlife and habitats to climate change driven by fossil fuel emissions and advocates for swiftly, but thoughtfully, replacing fossil fuels used to generate electricity with renewable energy sources.
The report describes the potential impacts to wildlife and their habitats from the siting, construction, and operations of a select portion of renewable energy infrastructure and outlines policy considerations for regulators, developers, and policy makers.
Follow these links to view the Executive Summary and Full Report:
- Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine (2019)–Executive Summary (pdf)
- Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine (2019)–Full Report (pdf)
Where do our wind and wildlife resources overlap?
In 2013, Maine Audubon developed a report, Wind Power and Wildlife in Maine: A State-wide Geographic Analysis of High-Value Wildlife Resources and Wind Power Classes, that identified areas of the state that are most appropriate or least appropriate for commercial wind development based on impacts to wildlife and habitat. The 2013 report also assessed the feasibility of the State of Maine’s goal of generating 3,000 MW (megawatts) of electricity from on-shore and off-shore wind power by 2030. The analysis used in this report was based on wind resources available to wind turbines with 80m hub heights.
Follow these links to view the Executive Summary and Full Report, and to view a summary of our Wind Power Siting Guidelines:
- Wind Power and Wildlife in Maine (2013)–Summary (pdf)
- Wind Power and Wildlife in Maine (2013)–Full Report (pdf)
- Wind Power Siting Guidelines (2013) (pdf)
In November 2019, as a part of the Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine report (described above), we updated the GIS analysis used in the 2013 report using new wind resource data for 100m and 140m hub heights, and updated wildlife resource data. Recent advancements in wind turbine technology have led to the development of wind turbines able to capture wind energy at higher elevations where winds are stronger and more consistent. The 2019 GIS analysis maps the geographic expansion of wind resources made available by these technological advances, as well as the most current information on locations of wildlife resources and natural communities.
This report does not replace Maine Audubon’s 2013 report, but instead supplements it. We encourage you to review the 2013 report first as it includes extensive background information on wind power and wildlife, and an assessment of the potential to meet the state’s goal of 3,000 MW capacity of wind energy by 2030 with minimal impact to Maine’s wildlife resources. Knowing that the goal is obtainable, the 2019 GIS analysis focuses specifically on changes resulting from the new wind and wildlife data and is a part of our larger report on renewable energy and wildlife in Maine (see above).
As with the 2013 report, we created an accompanying interactive map to improve planning, siting, and permitting for terrestrial wind power projects across the state of Maine with the goal of avoiding or reducing potential impacts to high-value wildlife resources. This map should not be used to identify specific areas for wind development by itself, as additional on-site investigations will be required to discover all wildlife resources present at a site and to determine ultimate feasibility of a project. Rather, it can be used to provide initial guidance on how to avoid high-value and sensitive wildlife areas early in the planning process, and steer wind projects to those areas more likely to have minimal impacts to known wildlife resources.
For a deeper understanding of the methodologies as well as the limitations of the interpretations of this analysis, please see A Statewide Geographical Analysis of the Intersection of High-value Wildlife Resources and Wind Resources (pdf), a section of the 2019 report, Renewable Energy and Wildlife in Maine.