Four major environmental groups and three energy companies have developed a plan to help protect an endangered whale species while building offshore wind farms.
The voluntary agreement reached earlier this month among the groups, including the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, focuses on protecting North Atlantic right whales, which migrate along the coast twice a year.
Wind developers, including Deepwater Wind and Princeton-based NRG Bluewater Wind, agreed to alter multiple construction and exploration techniques during the winter months to reduce or avoid sound disturbances that can affect whale communication.
“We have an enormous energy resource right off of our coast, and developing it will help preserve our environment and protect species like the North Atlantic right whale,” Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, said in a news release.
“This energy resource must be developed responsibly, and we are committed to being a national leader in responsible development. This agreement — and Deepwater Wind’s role in negotiating it — is proof of that commitment.”
The agreement, posted on the National Wildlife Federation’s website, limits pile driving and profiling the ocean floor using sound from late November to mid-March. Work on any wind farm infrastructure or development also would have limits during the early fall and late spring.
The limits apply only to the mid-Atlantic wind energy-exploration areas established by the federal government off the coast of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Deepwater Wind is considering an offshore project about 20 miles east of Avalon.
Participating wind developers also will limit the speed of boats associated with projects to 10 knots between Nov. 1 and April 30. The developers also will provide at least two observers to watch for whales during construction, the agreement states.
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