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Cost of Going Green? Wind Farm Turbines Slaughter Bats -- and That's Bad for Crop Prices!

"Bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers are left with the bill."

New green technologies look to be backfiring for Pennsylvania farmers, and the nocturnal creatures who take care of their pest problem. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"The 420 wind turbines now in use across Pennsylvania killed more than 10,000 bats last year -- mostly in the late summer months, according to the state Game Commission. That's an average of 25 bats per turbine per year, and the Nature Conservancy predicts as many as 2,900 turbines will be set up across the state by 2030.

This is a bad time to be a bat.

It may seem like a good thing to those who fear the flying mammals, but the wind farm mortality rate is an acute example of how harnessing natural energy can lead to disruptions in the circle of life -- and the cycle of business. This chain of events mixes biology and economics: Bat populations go down, bug populations go up and farmers are left with the bill for more pesticide and crops (which accounts for those pricey tomatoes in Kansas)."

The Post-Gazette goes on to point out a Science Magazine report that calculated that bats saved farmers about $74 per acre, and a total cost across the state estimated to be $277.9 million. Technology producers are looking to develop solutions to deter bats from the turbines like high-pitch sound generators that keep creatures from coming too close.

"All these options cost money," said Ms. Librandi Mumma, and it can be a tough sell to the private industry handing over the information that helps in the research. "You don't want to penalize the hand that's giving you the data."

The energy producers could be labeled killing machines, as the state Game Commission report estimates that in addition to bats, 1,680 birds were killed in the turbines last year.

Here's a report by KCTS-TV from last year:

One last thing…
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