DOAS has examined and commented on a number of wind project environmental reviews. Commercial wind projects are known to kill eagles. Some projects seemed to pose little risk. DOAS was directly involved in these local projects because of concerns about raptors:
Jordanville Wind Project – In 2006 DOAS submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a wind project in Jordanville. We conducted our own raptor surveys in this project area. We also submitted comments on the developer’s avian surveys that we believed under-counted Golden Eagles and did not adequately address grassland bird impacts, including Short-eared Owl. However, our concerns became a moot point after the town held an illegal, behind closed door meeting. The illegal meeting ended the environmental review process. Like many projects during this period, amateur town boards, and planning boards, were conducting the environmental reviews as “lead agencies”. See the following link for additional information: https://www.macalester.edu/windenergy/casestudies/jordanville/JWdetails.html
South Mountain Wind Project (Walton) – In 2013, we learned of the proposed South Mountain Wind Project in the Town of Walton adjacent to the Bald Eagle concentration area at Cannonsville Reservoir. The site was also directly downstream of where we counted 100 migrating eagles in 2009. A notice from NYSDEC indicated the project had received a “negative declaration”. That means it was “determined not to have significant adverse environmental impacts”. An examination of the developer’s raptor data by DOAS and others quickly determined the developer had misidentified raptors by using an incompetent surveyor. A call to the Chair of The Walton Planning Board – the lead agency for the project – determined they did not understand the review process. The project was canceled. Click Here for Information and Data related to the Cannonsville Project.
Bluestone Wind Project (Sanford and Windsor) – April 2019 update: This proposal for thirty-three 670-foot tall turbines proposed for the Broome County towns of Sanford and Windsor was reduced to 27 turbines in April 2019. Our initial concern was that this area is within the known corridor for Golden Eagle migration. A high frequency of non-migrant Golden Eagle observations by DOAS surveyors raised additional concerns.
DOAS is an official party or intervenor in this project. We have expressed our concerns to the project sponsor, and to the other parties in the review. We also applied for and received intervenor funding available to parties and used these funds to conduct raptor migration surveys in the project area in fall 2017 and late winter and spring of 2018. We also surveyed in February and March 2019, using funds raised from DOAS contributors.
Our surveys found a significant presence of both Golden and Bald Eagles, migrants and non-migrants alike. Bluestone Wind conducted its own studies and has concluded a low risk to these birds. In response, we applied and received additional intervenor funds to pay for an expert opinion on this risk and other matters related to eagles. We are participating in discussions with the parties but it is quite possible that we and others may not reach consensus on eagle impacts and other matters. If this is the case, the process moves to a litigation stage where the project sponsor and the parties provide testimony and evidence before an administrative law judge. If we do get to that point, we will need legal representation for these hearings.