In 2013, the U.S. wind industry supported 50,500 jobs in all 50 states. By the first quarter of 2014, there were enough wind-power facilities installed across the U.S. to power 15.5 million U.S. homes. And those numbers are growing, especially in the Midwest. In Ohio alone, wind power would be capable of meeting more than 98 percent of the state's current electricity needs if all capacity were developed, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Despite this promising outlook, wind’s future in the Midwest is far from certain. Because there is no federal regulator for wind power projects, a patchwork of state and local regulations across the region has frustrated wind energy developers, while state natural resource agencies have missed key opportunities to protect fish and wildlife.

A growing number of proposed wind facilities have been delayed or even abandoned because endangered or threatened species—such as the Indiana bat and the piping plover—live at proposed site locations.

Our Role: Planning for a “Wind-Win” Solution

How can we protect wildlife as wind energy inevitably expands? To speed up the approval of wind energy plants while protecting endangered or threatened species the Fund worked with eight Midwestern states, wind industry representatives and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). The Plan covers 27 million acres and eight species (including six federally listed species, one that may be listed in the future, and bald eagle) that may be impacted by future wind energy projects across the Midwest region. 

Why This Project Matters

By providing streamlined permit conditions, the MSHCP helps wind developers and operators take a more strategic approach to choosing sites and designing projects. At the same time, the plan ensures that the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service can protect listed species mandated by the Endangered Species Act and still support an energy source that lowers global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a “wind-win” solution for wildlife, for local economies and jobs and for a planet in search of non-polluting energy sources.

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