The Forward Energy Center (Center) consists of 86 General Electric 1.5MW turbines in southeastern Wisconsin. Each turbine has an 80-meter hub height and 120-meter rotor-tip height. The turbines are located in agricultural land (corn/soybean rotations being the predominant crop types) in southern Fond du Lac County and northern Dodge County. The Center is approximately 5 km east of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, 63 km west of Lake Michigan, 22 km north of Neda Mine State Natural Area, and 21 km south of Lake Winnebago. Steve Grodsky and Dr. David Drake conducted a two year bird and bat mortality study.
The primary objectives of our study were to:
1) Assess bird and bat mortality at the Center,
2) Provide corrected mortality estimations for birds and bats using the most recent statistical estimator, and
3) Correlate observed mortality rates with select weather variables, proximity to Horicon Marsh and Neda Mine, turbine operating status, and bird and bat activity at the Center.
When comparing corrected mortality estimates, bird and bat mortality rates recorded at the Forward Energy Center were similar to those of neighboring wind farms and other studies throughout the Midwest. In order to understand corrected mortality estimates in the proper context comparisons with other wind project mortality studies are presented with the caveat that direct comparisons are difficult and potentially misleading due to the crucial differences between study methodologies, especially those used in searches and mortality estimators.