Discovering Clear Power Options in Jap Washington

This fall marked the launch of Washington State College’s Least-Battle Photo voltaic Siting venture, which is able to establish areas in Jap Washington with the least potential for battle over the siting of large-scale photo voltaic power initiatives. Audubon Washington led efforts to carry this course of to the state’s Columbia Plateau area, the place rising strain to fight local weather change via large-scale clear power initiatives has been met with considerations about ecosystem impacts. Now that the method is underway, Audubon is targeted on defending sagebrush birds and the habitat they depend on whereas pursuing insurance policies to assist speed up the deployment of responsibly-sited renewable power. 

In 2019, Audubon Washington helped cross the state’s Clear Power Transformation Act (CETA), which requires state utilities to offer prospects with 100% clear electrical energy by mid-century. It was one of the crucial aggressive clear power acts within the nation and led to a surge of latest proposals in Jap Washington’s shrub-steppe. This lovely and biologically numerous ecosystem is dwelling to birds just like the state-endangered Better Sage-Grouse and different at-risk species that use open, arid lands just like the Sagebrush Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, and Sage Thrasher. The realm has seen an 80% loss in historic sagebrush habitat, and sadly Washington shouldn’t be the one place the place sagebrush birds are in danger. A brand new examine reveals that 1.3 million acres are being misplaced yearly within the U.S.  

“Local weather change poses a extreme menace to birds in Jap Washington, however the scale of proposed photo voltaic amenities might affect the state’s remaining sagebrush habitat,” mentioned Trina Bayard, Director of Hen Conservation for Audubon Washington. “That is why we have been advocating for sensible siting and allowing practices and utilizing analysis to ensure that clear power improvement doesn’t come on the expense of sagebrush birds and ecosystem well being.” 

Audubon’s strategy to scrub power in Washington is guided partly by outcomes from the Sagebrush Songbird Survey, a six-year neighborhood science venture that generated area knowledge to assist construct new species distribution fashions for songbirds that depend on the habitat. This knowledge is now getting used within the Clear Power Screening Software, a first-of-its-kind instrument developed with Audubon’s Clear Power Initiative (CEI) crew that brings collectively a spread of environmental datasets to evaluate how proposed clear power initiatives would possibly affect hen and habitat sources within the Columbia Plateau. Audubon Washington and state chapters are utilizing the instrument to establish and advocate for venture placement that avoids conflicts with birds and different ecosystem values. 

With the least-conflict photo voltaic siting course of kicking off, Washington State College is participating Audubon and different stakeholders, in addition to tribes and key companies, to make use of native enter and spatial knowledge to supply maps and an related last report by June 2023.  Seeking to the long run, Audubon Washington plans to proceed constructing on their clear power siting work by advancing sensible planning insurance policies and creating extra on-the-ground assist for responsibly-sited clear power initiatives. “We’re happy with what we’ve completed thus far, and we see a wealth of alternatives forward,” mentioned Adam Maxwell, Senior Coverage Supervisor at Audubon Washington. “Our work is a shining instance of what’s potential in different states, as clear power siting turns into one of many key local weather points within the coming years.” 

Go to Renewable Power and Birds to be taught extra about Audubon’s strategy to renewable power. 

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