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Mad River Wind Farm Impact Assessment Study in the Tug Hill Region of New York State  

Author:  | Environment, New York

Abstract: Atlantic Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of the renewable energy company Avangrid Renewables of Portland Oregon, is proposing to construct a state-of-the-art large-scale wind turbine energy farm (LSWF) of approximately 88 Gamesa G-132 wind turbines in the heart of the rural Tug Hill region at the intersection of Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties in upstate New York. The proposal, entitled the “Mad River Wind Farm,” would have a nameplate capacity generate [electricity at a rate of] up to 350 MW (megawatts, or million watts), enough to provide power for 60,000 typical households over the course of the 20-30 year life span of the project (however, the actual power produced may be substantially less). The project is to be sited under a new, unified review and approval process for electrical facilities generating in excess of 25 MW, according to provisions of Art. 10 of the NYS Public Service Law. Traditionally, forested landscapes were considered as “no-go” locations for siting LSWFs, [owing] to their inaccessibility and problems with airflow turbulence in potentially uneven forested canopies. However, as technology has improved and turbines have increased in height (400 to 600+ feet), forests are receiving new attention as large-scale landscapes to site wind farms. Only a handful of LSWFs have been constructed in forested landscapes in the US. While wind farms are often considered as beneficial, renewable forms of “green energy” and are increasingly favored by the environmental community for their important contributions to sustainable energy development and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, they may not always have benign impacts to the environment where they are sited. This white paper, prepared for the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, examines the potential ecological and environmental impacts from the proposed Mad River project, and focuses on direct and indirect impacts from both the construction and operational phases of the project.

The bio-physical ecological impacts addressed include:

  • soils;
  • micro-climate and air quality;
  • noise and visual impacts;
  • riparian water quality and palustrine wetlands;
  • timber stand dynamics and the potential for forest fragmentation;
  • invasive species;
  • bat and bird mortality;
  • recreational impacts;
  • transportation, road building, and ancillary energy facilities construction;
  • the potential impact on DOD radar and electronic facilities;
  • safety and security issues; and
  • connectivity issues related to the existing structure and assimilative capacity of the electric grid network of the region,

among others.

Prepared for Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust by Dr. David H. Newman (Principal Investigator), and Prof. Brian L. Fisher, M.S. (PhD Student; Primary Author), Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, April 2018

Download original document: “Mad River Wind Farm Impact Assessment Study in the Tug Hill Region of New York State

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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