The huge Lighthouse Wind project near the Lake Ontario shoreline in Orleans and Niagara counties has been named one of the nation’s 10 worst wind farms for birds – and it doesn’t even exist yet.
The declaration comes from the American Bird Conservancy, which asserts that Lighthouse Wind’s giant turbines would be smack in the middle of an important migratory pathway. “Vast numbers of songbirds and raptors concentrate within six miles of the shoreline during spring and fall of each year,” the group said in a blog announcing its choices.
The rest of the list includes five existing wind farms and four other proposed facilities, none of them in New York. The conservancy is not a big fan anything that can harm birds, including wind turbines, habitat loss, pesticides and, of course, house cats.
The Lighthouse Wind project, being developed by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, would feature as many as 70 turbines of nearly 600 feet in height. They’d be the tallest turbines in New York state and the installation would be the single largest wind generator here. Its capacity of 200 megawatts is nearly as great as that of Russell Station, the defunct coal-fired power plant in Greece that’s undergoing demolition.
The turbines would be scattered over a 12,000-acre swath of land in Somerset, Niagara County and neighboring Yates, Orleans County. They wouldn’t be on the lakes shore, but several miles inland. The project, which has drawn mixed reviews from residents in the area, appears several years away from reaching fruition.
Apex has not issued a statement on the conservancy’s listing of its project, but the company makes it clear on its website that it believes Lighthouse Wind can be built without doing undue harm to avians. Apex is undertaking a number of bird- and bat-related studies, according to a recent post on the company blog, which it said would lead to “the most wildlife-friendly turbine layout and operational protocols for the wind farm.”
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