MONTPELIER — Vermont’s largest electric utility is working to reduce the number of bats killed by a wind power project on Lowell Mountain and will make regular contributions to a program designed to address concerns that some property owners have about bats in their buildings, the Agency of Natural Resources said Thursday.
Last month officials from Green Mountain Power and the agency signed a memorandum of understanding, which helped the utility receive an endangered species permit to continue operating its 21-turbine Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell.
As a condition of its original 2011 permit, GMP agreed to reduce turbine activity during the summer to reduce the number of migratory bats that are killed from colliding with the turbine blades.
Vermont has three species of migratory bats and six species of cave-dwelling bats that hibernate in the winter in local caves or mines. White-nose syndrome, the fungus that has caused up to 90 percent declines in some bat species in recent years, affects cave-dwelling bats, not the species most likely to be killed by the turbines.
As part of the agreement, GMP said it would provide $18,438 a year for the Bat Maternity Colony Technical Assistance Program, which will be administered by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. The program works to reduce bat mortality by addressing homeowners’ concerns about bats in their houses.
“Although we often hear questions about how to deal with bats in attics or barns, Vermonters regularly tell me that they are concerned about the fate of bats. They ask what can be done to help,” said Vermont bat biologist Scott Darling. “This program will support our efforts to safely remove unwanted bats and assist the public directly in conserving them.”
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