RICHMOND — A proposal by Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, to protect birds and bats from wind turbines passed a committee vote Thursday and was referred to the full Senate.
Garrett said some advocates for wind-generated electricity had criticized the bill.
“I want to make this abundantly clear — and I’ll speak really slowly — this bill is in no way, shape or form designed to be an anti-wind bill,” he said. “We will, I hope, generate a greater and greater percentage of our power in the coming years via renewable energy resources whether it be solar, etc. That doesn’t mean we should do so irresponsibly.”
Senate Bill 123, after an amendment, directs the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to consult with the Department of Environmental Quality when it writes regulations for wind and other renewable energy projects.
Studies estimate 440,000 birds, including endangered species such as bald eagles, are killed each year by wind turbines, Garrett said.
It’s estimated another 600,000 to 900,000 bats are killed per year. Bats bolster agriculture by eating insects and pollinating crops.
Garrett's bill passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources by a 9-5 vote.