The Columbia Hills area above (north of) the Columbia River in Klickitat County, in southcentral Washington, is being considered for development of two wind power generation projects that could include the eventual placement of up to 436 wind turbines. The KENETECH Windpower Washington Windplanttm Number 1 project would include placing up to 345 KENETECH 33M-VS turbines, capable of producing up to 115 megawatts (MW), in 39 rows (strings) on a 5,110-hectare (12,630-acre) site. The Conservation and Renewable Energy Systems (CARES) Columbia Wind Farm #1 project would include placing 91 Flowind AWT-26 turbines, capable of generating 25 MW, in 11 rows on a 395-hectare (975-acre) site.
During scoping for these proposed developments, concerns were raised regarding the potential for avian mortality associated with wind farm development. Collision with wind turbine blade, towers, guy wires, and transmission lines, and electrocution from power lines have been identified as sources of avian mortality, particularly raptors, at existing wind farm facilities.
To address these concerns, an avian study was conducted at the site in accordance with an avian study plan and protocol developed, with input from a national avian task force, state agencies (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife [WDFW]), and federal agencies (USFWS). The study included four elements: (1) a winter raptor and waterfowl study, (2) spring migration and fall migration studies, (3) a summer resident study, and (4) a raptor breeding study. The study involved extensive field studies conducted by biologists experienced in identifying raptors and other birds.