The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society is questioning the methods used by Invenergy LLC to conduct bird surveys at the proposed Moresville wind-farm site in Roxbury and Stamford.
Invenergy officials say the studies were done correctly.
The Audubon Society issued a letter in November expressing support for wind power as an alternative to fossil-fueled and nuclear energy, but added that the 2005 surveys of birds done at the project site are flawed.
“Moresville has taken some serious shortcuts in their avian studies,” Andy Mason, DOAS conservation chairman, said in a media release. “They carried out radar studies of nocturnal bird migration, but the radar location was 21/2 miles away and 1,000 feet lower than the ridge where the wind turbines would be located.”
David Groberg, Moresville Energy vice president, said the company respects DOAS’ commitment to bird conservation but said it did not take shortcuts with the avian studies.
“These studies, which were designed in consultation with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation,” Groberg said, “were professionally executed and are sufficient to evaluate the project’s threat to avian wildlife.”
He said New York state has some of the strictest requirements for pre-construction studies, and Moresville has gone to considerable effort and expense to evaluate the potential for avian impacts at the site. Those steps included 83 nights of radar studies conducted onsite, adjacent to a proposed turbine location in the closest suitable clearing to the ridge.Â
The Moresville proposal is for 33 turbines with a maximum blade height of more than 400 feet along 8 miles of ridge top between Stamford and Grand Gorge. The company has begun work on an environmental impact statement that will include the bird studies.
Mason said the radar survey showed large numbers of birds in the area in spring and fall, and most songbirds fly at night during migration.
“They found as many as 800 birds per kilometer per hour moving on peak migration nights, and a large proportion of these were within the elevation of the turbine blades,” Mason said. “This represents hundreds to thousands of birds per night passing through the project area at the elevation of the swept areas of the turbine blades.”
Mason added that one year of studies is inadequate.
“There can be significant differences in the magnitude and location of migrating birds from year to year,” he said.
Groberg said single-year studies conducted by environmental experts hired by Moresville are consistent and compliant with standard requirements for wind projects in New York and across the country.Â Â
The proposal is undergoing a State Environmental Quality Review.
“As we all know, the project is in the middle of the state Environmental Quality Review process, which provides for several layers of independent review, including experts selected by the Roxbury Planning Board and multiple opportunities for participation by state and federal wildlife agencies,” Groberg said.
“It bears repeating that outside of California, bird mortality at modern wind facilities has generally been low,” Groberg continued. “Especially when compared to other sources of avian mortality including collisions with vehicles, buildings, communication towers and even house cats.”
By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
23 January 2008
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