The Pennsylvania Audubon Council Renewable Energy Committee presented its webinar, via a ZOOM, on the evening of December 6, 2022. The webinar featured a PowerPoint presented by the members of the Renewable Energy Committee: Tom Kuehl, Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society; Laura Jackson, Juniata Valley Audubon Society; Susan Murawski, Presque Isle Audubon Society; and Judy Stepenaskie, Wyncote Audubon Society. These members of the Renewable Energy Committee have been at work for over two years, focusing on the guidelines for responsibly sited solar and wind projects.
This webinar was targeted to chapter leaders to solicit their review and comment on the Committee’s draft white paper: “Guidelines for Municipalities: Developing Bird Friendly and Environmentally Responsible Utility Scale Solar.” The webinar enjoyed good participation, discussion and feedback that has been used to improve the document. Comments during the webinar made note that the more rural areas of the Commonwealth will likely receive more applications for the construction of utility scale solar projects. Many Pennsylvania Counties including Adams, Bedford, Lebanon, Lancaster, Lycoming and York Counties were among those raised as areas for proposed projects. Also mentioned was the fact that urban municipalities, like Philadelphia, may work to have projects sited in more rural parts of the state. This topic is very timely, as there will be important initiatives and funding to support the development of solar installations across the Commonwealth and the nation. There will be a critical need for fossil free energy production that is responsibly sited and operated! Our Pennsylvania Audubon Chapters network will be important in monitoring proposed projects because Pennsylvania is a “Home Rule” Commonwealth.
We encourage any interested chapter leader to access the Zoom recording of the webinar and we welcome any questions, additional suggestions, and comment. The next step for the Pennsylvania Audubon Council Renewable Energy Committee is to share the white paper with our conservation partners in the Commonwealth and to offer our webinar to a wider audience. Links to the recorded webinar and white paper can be found below.
The Pennsylvania Audubon Council Renewable Energy Committee aims to provide information to Pennsylvania Audubon Chapters and others on: a) proper siting criteria for renewable energy projects to ensure that critical bird areas, migration routes and important wildlife habitats are protected, and b) methods to minimize and mitigate the impact of renewable energy projects on birds and other wildlife. The white paper: “Guidelines for Municipalities: Developing Bird Friendly and Environmentally Responsible Utility Scale Solar,” represents the position of the Pennsylvania Audubon Council Renewable Energy committee which is solely responsible for its content!