Responsible Solar Energy

December 4, 2017

Looking Out for the Bobolink
I’m very excited to launch our new blog with a story, not so much about solar power, but about birds—in particular, a bird called the bobolink.

It’s All About the Habitat
While planning for one of our new FIT 3.1 solar installations, we learned about some interesting Ontario birds. An environmental investigation at a site in southern Ontario identified certain species that depended on the site’s habitat, including the loggerhead shrike, whip-poor-will and the bobolink (pronounced “boeboelink”). Right away we began working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to see how we would minimize any disruption to the birds.

Responsible Site Placement,Construction and Operation
While solar power is one of the pillars of sustainable resources and currently at the forefront of our future in renewable energy, we know that solar projects can impact wildlife and the environments in which they’re built. Careful planning and due diligence can greatly mitigate these issues, which is why the solar industry needs to be aware of, and responsible for, how they approach the development of solar installations. This includes open dialogue and working with agencies tasked with responsible solar facility placement, construction and operation.

One Stop on a Very Long Journey
So back to those bobolinks. Turns out they’re an iconic Ontario bird, especially because of their crazy yellow bonnets and how they migrate over 10,000 miles to and from South America every year. Throughout its lifetime, it might travel the equivalent of four or five times the circumference of the earth!

Our Habitat Management Plan
After discussing our project with the MNRF, we developed a Habitat Management Plan to offset the use of the birds’ habitat. We leased and set aside 8.8 hectares of comparable habitat that will be protected in perpetuity for not only the bobolink, but also the eastern meadowlark, whip-poor-will and other species of wildlife that will enjoy their newly protected home.

Using this proactive and collaborative approach, we can ensure the continued survival of the ecosystems that solar energy operates within and mitigate the displacement of the animals that call them home.

Matt Wayrynen

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