The Wind Energy Whooping Crane Action Group (WEWAG) is creating the Great Plains Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in order to responsibly develop the wind energy resources in the central United States. The goal of this voluntary regional HCP is to comprehensively address potential wind energy development impacts to listed or sensitive species, allowing for more effective conservation and a more efficient permit process.
The Great Plains Wind Energy HCP Plan Area includes a 200-mile wide and 1,500 mile-long corridor in the central United States (approximately 268 million acres. This area encompasses the most frequently traveled migration pathway of the whooping crane, as well as the current range of the lesser prairie-chicken and most of its historic range. To develop the HCP, WEWAG is collaborating with Region 2 (the Southwest) and Region 6 (Mountain-Prairie) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service), as well as the state wildlife agencies of the nine states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) included in the Plan Area.
Currently, the Great Plains Wind Energy HCP will address the potential impacts from the development and operation of wind energy facilities on the following federally listed species: the endangered whooping crane (Grus americana), the endangered interior least tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos), the threatened piping plover (Charadrius melodus), and the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). The lesser prairie-chicken is proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and on November 30, 2012 the Service formally initiated a process to consider recognizing it as a threatened species (for more information: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/LPC.html). The final list of covered species will be based on the outcome of the HCP planning process. The proposed duration of the permit is 45 years (this includes up to 15 years of new project construction and 30 years of operation, maintenance, and decommissioning).
WEWAG is a collaboration of 15 wind energy companies: Acciona-North America, Allete, BP Wind Energy, Competitive Power Ventures Inc., Duke Energy Renewables, EDP Renewables North America, Element Power, EDF-Renewable Energy, Iberdrola Renewables, Infinity Wind Power, MAP Royalty, NextEra Energy Resources, RES Americas, Trade Wind Energy, and Wind Capital Group.
WEWAG is coordinated by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The Service is conducting public meetings as part of its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process for this HCP. Please see their website for more information on how to participate in these meetings or provide written comments:
www.fws.gov/southwest (then click on "Great Plains Wind Energy" in column on right side of page)