Horizon Wind Energy (Horizon) is developing a renewable energy portfolio for western New York which includes a potential wind power project in Wyoming County. The proposed Dairy Hills Wind Project is located in an agricultural setting north and east of the town of Perry, in the Perry, Warsaw, and Covington townships (Figure 1). The exact location and size of the development will be based on a number of factors including economics, electricity markets, transmission constraints, power purchase agreements, permitting, and results of site surveys.
Through the early project evaluation process a number of concerns were raised by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). These concerns included potential project impacts to avian and bat resources, particularly nocturnal migrant birds and bats, migrant raptors, breeding birds, and species of concern which may occupy the site. The agencies requested that data be collected which may be used to describe these resources in the context of the proposed development, assist in addressing potential impacts from the development, and to the extent possible, assist in wind plant design and siting that minimizes risk to avian and bat resources.
A field study that addressed agency concerns and provided site specific data on resources of concern was initiated in April 2005. The principal goals of the study were:
1. Provide information on avian and bat resources and use of the study area that is useful in evaluating potential impacts from wind power development;
2. Provide information on avian and bat migration over the proposed development area that is useful in evaluating the relative risk of the proposed wind project location;
3. Provide information on avian, bat, and sensitive species use of the study area that would help in designing a wind plant that is less likely to expose species to potential collisions with turbines, and;
4. Provide recommendations for further monitoring studies and potential mitigation measures, if appropriate.
The studies included field surveys for avian species, especially spring and fall nocturnal migrants and diurnal migrants with a focus on raptors, breeding birds, fall migrant and resident bats, and state listed or sensitive species. Specific objectives of the study were to (1) describe and quantify nocturnal migration over the proposed project, (2) describe and quantify diurnal raptor migration through the proposed project, (3) describe and quantify breeding bird use in the proposed project area, (4) describe and quantify migrant bats over the proposed project, and (5) identify the presence of any special-status species (e.g., state-listed species) that may occur seasonally in the project area.
The studies were designed to characterize avian (raptors, breeding residents and migrants) use of the proposed development area, summer and migrant bat use of the proposed development area, and provide data that were useful in estimating potential impacts the Dairy Hills project may have on birds and bats. The study protocol was developed with input from personnel of NYDEC and USFWS, and with the expertise and experience of WEST, which has conducted similar studies for wind energy development throughout the U.S.