This paper reviews the potential impacts from utility-scale wind energy development on birds and bats, how impacts can be studied, and how impacts may be mitigated. This paper also attempts to place potential impacts from wind energy development in context with potential impacts of other power generating technologies with which the reader may be more familiar.
Heavy construction work, common to development of all power generating facilities, will affect the ecological resources in the vicinity of the project both during the construction activities and operation of the project. Some of the major concerns include loss or change of habitat for foraging and nesting birds, change in vegetative cover types, and death of birds and bats due to collisions with the wind turbine/tower structures. Since the potential for bird and bat mortality is a topic that receives significant attention for wind energy projects, this paper focuses on birds and bats. Potential impacts to other biotic resources would be evaluated within an environmental impact review, as appropriate.
As a town official, you may receive materials from a wide range of organizations. This paper attempts to provide an objective review of the general impacts to birds and bats from utility-scale wind energy projects. Keep in mind that while knowing general trends gathered from wind energy projects across the U.S. and the impacts from wind energy projects located in similar terrain and ecological areas may be helpful, this knowledge is typically not a substitute for knowledge gained from conducting a site-specific environmental assessment. In addition, it should be noted that there are not many published studies on this topic at present, and there are new studies currently in progress that will shed much more light on this issue.