Although the use of wind energy as an alternative electric generation source is now a viable choice, there is concern over the possible impacts of wind plants on birds. The concern includes two primary areas: the effect of avian mortality resulting from collisions with wind turbines on bird populations and possible litigation over the killing of even one bird protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, or both.
The activities of the avian research program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focus on minimizing the effects of wind turbines on birds and bird populations. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, NREL conducts research (1) to refine the methods developed to assess impacts on birds and bird populations within wind plants, (2) to understand how birds behave in and around wind turbines in different environments, and (3) to identify how birds recognize wind turbines and develop recommendations for making the turbines more conspicuous.
This report summarizes the avian research conducted at the Columbia Windfarm #1 in Klickitat County, Washington. The research was funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Conservation and Renewable Energy System (CARES), a consortium of eight Washington State Public Utility Districts. The multi-year research project was originally designed to conduct pre and post-construction avian utilization and fatality surveys to determine whether a specific treatment would affect the impact of wind turbines on avian species.
This report documents only the preconstruction data collected because development of the site was indefinitely postponed and the field surveys were suspended at the end of one year. If the site is developed, the information contained in this report may be useful for comparison with post-construction data, if the data are collected using comparable methodologies.