Assessments Will Provide Better Understanding About Bird and Bat Impacts
ALBANY, NY (01/24/2008; 1112)(readMedia)– The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today proposed guidelines to assist commercial wind energy developers assess the potential impacts turbines may have on birds and bats. Developed in consultation with energy officials, wildlife advocates and other stakeholders, the guidelines are intended to continue the state’s effort to promote wind power as a renewable energy resource while minimizing the potential impacts to birds and bats.
“Wind energy development is an important component of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s clean renewable energy initiative in New York,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. “As proposals for commercial wind energy ventures continue to increase across the state, these draft guidelines will provide a valuable tool for those evaluating a project, as well as for our staff charged with protecting the state’s critical bird and bat populations.”
In addition to Governor Spitzer’s clean energy strategy that will reduce electricity consumption by 15 percent below the forecasted level in 2015, New York is working towards achieving a Renewable Portfolio Standard whereby the state must meet a goal of 25 percent renewable energy generation by 2013.
Currently, six wind farms are operating with a rated capacity of 423 mw from 263 turbines in Madison, Wyoming, Lewis and Erie counties. Five other wind farms that are under construction in Clinton, Wyoming and Steuben counties will provide an additional 405 mw from 238 turbines when completed sometime in the summer of 2008. More than 30 additional wind farm siting proposals are actively undergoing environmental review.
As construction of wind turbines increases, there is also the increased potential for birds and bats to collide with the towers and rotating blades. The presence of spinning turbines may also induce behavioral changes in nesting or migrating birds, and in foraging bats. During the environmental review process, wind energy proposals must include assessments of the impacts the project could have on wildlife – especially birds and bats – and other natural resources. These assessments have been completed on a case-by-case basis.
The proposed guidelines provide a standardized process for completing assessments, which both benefits project applicants and improves the quality of the information obtained about bird and bat populations.
The new guidelines outline DEC’s recommendations to commercial wind energy developers on how to characterize bird and bat resources at wind energy sites and how to document and estimate bird and bat mortality resulting from collisions with turbines. The protocols in the guidelines are intended to allow comparison of data collected at different sites and in different years so that the information can be used to assess the ecological effects of wind energy generation. Protocols for both pre-construction studies and post-construction monitoring are included in the proposed guidelines.
DEC began development of the draft guidelines announced today after collaborating with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and other stakeholders at a New York Wind/Wildlife Technical Workshop sponsored by NYSERDA in August 2006. Workshop participants presented information on bird and bat impacts at existing wind farms as well as various study methods and sampling technologies. Since the workshop, DEC has met with individual wind energy developers to discuss recommendations for pre-construction studies and post-construction monitoring at specific locations. Information presented at the workshop and the shared experiences provided by the developers have been incorporated into the proposed guidelines.
The proposed guidelines are available for review at www.dec.ny.gov/energy/40899.html on the DEC website. Public comments can be submitted until March 7, 2008. Comments can be mailed to Brianna Gary at NYSDEC Bureau of Habitat, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4756 or sent via email directly from the website.
For more information contact: Maureen Wren, 518-402-8000
24 January 2008
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