How will RES protect the forestland during construction?
We will use the existing roads and trails as much as possible, which will minimize the impact on the existing forest land. Where we have to widen a road or trail, or create a new road, we will work with Weyerhaeuser to determine the best way to do so.
The project will also comply with state laws protecting wetlands and waterways. RES will complete a wetlands delineation and obtain appropriate permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A storm water permit, including a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control (SESC) Plan and SESC Permit, will also be required before construction can start.
How will RES protect the birds and bats that fly through the area?
We have consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Summit Lake Wind Project, and will continue to engage with these agencies during the development of the project.
On-site wildlife surveys are ongoing since 2017. Once studies are complete, we will develop a project-specific Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy that will address post-construction mortality monitoring and adaptive management strategies.
Generally, wind power is less harmful to wildlife than traditional energy sources and is part of the solution to address climate change. Overall, wind energy production causes less than 0.01% of all human-related bird deaths. Even so, the wind industry standard practice includes systematic study, avoidance, and minimization of wildlife impacts.
The wind industry, including RES, contributes to voluntary studies to mitigate impacts to bats, including funding research on White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated cave dwelling bats throughout the northeast and midwestern United States.
We will also follow the U.S. wind industry's voluntary operating protocol to feather turbines below cut-in speed during the fall bat migration season, when research has shown bats are most at risk of collision.