Night operation of the windmills in the North Allegheny Windpower Project has been halted following discovery of a dead Indiana bat under one of the turbines, an official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday.
The finding marks only the second location where an Indiana bat has been found dead under a wind turbine. Two Indiana bats were found under turbines in the Mid-west, said Clint Riley, supervisor for Fish and Wildlife’s Pennsylvania field office.
“While finding the dead bat is not good news for any of us, it does show the monitoring works,” Riley said from his State College office.
The find is significant because the Indiana bat is an endangered species and is protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
The 35-windmill farm was built by Gamesa Energy USA in Portage, Washington and Cresson townships in Cambria County and extends across the line into Blair County.
It became operational in September 2009 and was purchased by Duke Energy in July 2009, spokesman Greg Efthimiou said.
“We take our commitment to wildlife and the environment very seriously,” he said.
The bat was discovered during volunteer daily monitoring of the farm on Sept. 26, and Duke immediately brought in an Indiana bat expert for confirmation, Efthimiou said.
“We have not operated at night since the confirmation of the bat,” he said of the span beginning before dusk and ending after dawn.
The daily monitoring is part of a cooperative agreement between the wind farm owner and the state game commission.
“Mere hours after discovery, we entered into collaborative discussions (with state and federal officials) how to move forward,” he said.
A part of those discussions was to stop nighttime operation of the farm.
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