Concerns about cumulative population-level effects of bat fatalities at wind facilities have led to mitigation strategies to reduce turbine-related bat mortality. Operational mitigation that limits operation may reduce fatalities but also limits energy production. We incorporated both temperature and wind speed into an operational mitigation design fine-tuned to conditions when bats are most active in order to improve economic efficiency of mitigation. We conducted a 2-year study at the Sheffield Wind Facility in Sheffield, Vermont. Activity of bats is highest when winds speeds are low (< 6.0 m/s) and, in our region, when temperatures are above 9.5°C. We tested for a reduction in bat mortality when cut-in speed at treatment turbines was raised from 4.0 to 6.0 m/s whenever nightly wind speeds were < 6.0 m/s and temperatures were > 9.5°C. Mortalities at fully operational turbines were 1.52–4.45 times higher than at treatment turbines. During late spring and early fall, when overnight temperatures generally fell below 9.5°C, incorporating temperature into the operational mitigation design decreased energy losses by 18%. Energy lost from implementation of our design was < 3% for the study season and approximately 1% for the entire year. We recommend that operational mitigation be implemented during high-risk periods to minimize bat fatalities and reduce the probability of long-term population-level effects on bats.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2