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(Bartramia longicauda), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), and

vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus).80

Point Peninsula hosts the most significant concentration of wintering raptors


documented in New York State. The approximately 2,000-acre area is located
south of the Cape Vincent Project Area and is a mosaic of habitats including
active farmland, old fields, some woodlots and conifer plantations. The area is
used by a variety of wintering raptor species including northern harrier, short-
eared owl, long-eared owl (Asio otus), rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus), red-
tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus). Several other
raptor species, including bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), have been
observed at Point Peninsula, but the extent to which these species use the area is
not well known.81

In addition, the NYSDEC has conducted over-winter surveys for raptors within
and adjacent to the study area and has documented short-eared owls, northern
harriers, red-tailed hawks and other species within the Project. Information from
these surveys has been incorporated into project planning as part of the Article
11 Incidental Take Permit application.

2.10 TERRESTRIAL AND AQUATIC ECOLOGY: IMPACTS

The Project is designed to reduce permanent impacts on undisturbed


(unmanaged) vegetation communities and avoid impacts to threatened and
endangered species or significant ecological habitats. All permanent facilities
(wind turbines, the electrical substation, and operations and maintenance
facilities) and temporary construction facilities (construction staging areas and
the batch concrete plant) will be located in upland habitats and attempts have
been made to site these facilities in disturbed habitats such as agricultural areas
that provide limited wildlife habitat.

2.10.1 General Impacts to Local Habitats

2.10.1.1 Temporary Impacts

Temporary impacts to natural habitats and wildlife will occur during


construction of access roads and the transmission lines. Temporary impacts that
would result from the construction of the Project potentially include:
• temporary disturbance of natural habitats;
• elevated noise levels in the vicinity of construction activities;
• wildlife mortality due to interactions between animals and machinery during
construction; and
• temporary displacement of disturbance-tolerant species from habitats
adjacent to Project facilities during construction.

80 NYSDOS, 2007c.
81 NYSDOC, 2007d.

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To the extent possible, access roads at the site are located within uplands and
agricultural areas and avoid forests, wetlands, and other natural habitats.
However, there are some turbine locations that require access that will
necessitate impacts on natural habitats. Impacts to these areas will be followed
by restoration of the affected area, as recommended by NYSDEC and USACE
(for Waters of U.S.). As discussed in previous sections, the Project Area is a
mosaic of vegetation and habitats that include agricultural fields, pasture and
hay meadows, deciduous woodlands, forested wetlands, rural homes, farms, and
developed areas. Construction of the Project will inevitably result in some level
of habitat fragmentation, though the project has been designed in a way that
takes avoidance and minimization measures into account, resulting in the least
amount of fragmented habitat possible. For example, turbines were clustered
together when feasible to decrease the amount of unconnected access roads
serving turbine locations. Access roads were also, when feasible, sited along
existing fence lines and hedge rows to avoid fragmenting large open field areas
that are potentially suitable breeding habitat for grassland birds and other avian
species.

In order to minimize habitat disturbance, most of the 34.5 kV electrical


interconnects between the turbines and the Project substation will be buried
along access road ROWs. Some interconnects may be either routed aboveground
or directionally drilled in order to span a sensitive or protected wetland feature.

The significance of the temporary impacts would vary by habitat type. In


hayfields and other herbaceous habitats, the impact of construction would be
relatively minor and short-term because the herbaceous vegetation would
regenerate quickly. In forested and shrub habitats, the impact would be of
longer duration due to the longer regeneration period of these vegetative types.
All efforts will be taken to avoid impacts to forested habitats.

Project facilities would not be sited in, or require permanent modification to


aquatic habitats, including the portions of Kents Creek, Three Mile Creek, or the
Chaumont River within the Project Area. As there would be no disruption to the
aquatic habitats within the Project boundary, the Project is not likely to adversely
affect fish communities within, or downstream of, the Project Area. Standard
sediment and erosion control procedures would be used during construction to
prevent sedimentation in the streambeds.

For the 115 kV transmission line, which will connect the Project substation with
the Lyme substation, there were four alternate transmission line routings
evaluated. For this study, an evaluation of potential impacts was performed for
one of these corridors that extends approximately six miles east of the Project
Area along the Old Railroad Grade to the existing electrical substation on the east
bank of the Chaumont River. This abandoned railroad corridor has been
maintained in a cleared condition, but passes through a matrix of agricultural
land, upland forests, shrubland, and wetlands. The transmission line corridor
will span waterways throughout the Project Area; however, no poles would be

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sited within the streambeds avoiding temporary or permanent impacts to these
resources.

Traffic and other human activities associated with the Project may result in
localized and short-duration temporal behavioral disturbance to some wildlife
species. Traffic volumes associated with construction of the Project are
anticipated to be 75 vehicles per turbine per day. Many of the common wildlife
species that occur in these areas are accustomed to disturbance (mowing,
grazing, etc.). These species will move away from the disturbed area during
construction, but would likely return following completion of the construction
activities and restoration of the habitat. It is commonplace to find such generalist
species cohabitating with anthropogenic sources of disturbance. In some cases,
anthropogenic disturbance can even assist generalist species: cleared fields, for
example, can provide more foraging areas for raccoons, possums, and deer. This
impact is not expected to significantly affect the viability of any wildlife species.

2.10.1.2 Permanent Impacts

Permanent impacts on wildlife habitat types and associated species that would
result from the operation and maintenance of the Project potentially include:
• permanent land use changes;
• elevated noise levels due to wind turbines and the electrical substation;
• permanent displacement of disturbance-sensitive wildlife species from the
immediate vicinities of Project facilities; and
• wildlife mortality due to interactions between animals and machinery during
operations and maintenance activities.

Projected traffic volume for operation of the Project is low relative to existing
traffic associated with roads and residential use in the area, and is not
anticipated to have any discernable effect on local wildlife species.

Project development will result in alteration of discrete portions of various


habitats for wildlife species due to permanent conversion of disturbed and
natural habitats to developed land or utility ROW. In particular, facility
components such as roads and turbines may lead to some wildlife habitat
fragmentation locally. This is not considered a significant impact at Cape
Vincent, however, as the landscape within and surrounding the Project is
currently heavily fragmented with numerous roads, low and medium density
housing developments, farms, transmission lines, and other sources present.

Removal of forest habitat and perch trees would eliminate perching and roosting
habitat for several species of raptors that are common to the region as well as
wild turkey; however, displaced individuals would re-establish perches and
roosts in the remaining large undisturbed habitats in the Project Area. The
disturbance area footprint of wind projects is minor compared to the overall area
in which the Project occurs. Most of the resources available to birds in the Project
Area remain unaffected and available for use after the Project is constructed.

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There is no information that supports the assumption that remaining intact
perching, foraging, travel, or reproductive habitats or resources would not be
available after the project is constructed and operating.

Jefferson County is currently experiencing substantial growth in human


population and housing developments, as evidenced by population and housing
growth estimates in Fort Drum, where the number of soldiers, spouses, and
other personnel moving to the Fort Drum area is projected to increase by nearly
18,000 people between 2004 and 2013. To accommodate this population growth,
the Department of Defense estimated in 2005 that an additional 2,000 homes
would need to be built off of the Fort Drum base over the coming years.82 Due to
these and other development pressures, in the event that the Project is not
constructed, the current population and development growth trends will
probably result in the loss of current and traditional land uses for the area. This
would result in fewer undeveloped open spaces and lower human density
conditions. The Project, once constructed, will likely preclude additional
housing developments and will result in less fragmented conditions when
compared to future scenarios without the development of the Project.

For a discussion of the potential impact of the Project on avian and bat resources,
refer to Section 2.11.

2.10.2 Threatened and Endangered Plant Species and Significant Ecological Habitats

Plant Species and Significant Ecological Communities


Five state-listed plant species (Table 2.9-1) and four significant ecological
communities are located at, or in the vicinity of, the Project Area. Project
facilities would not be sited in, or require permanent modification to, these plant
populations or ecological communities. Thus, the Project is not expected to affect
these resources during the construction period or operation of the wind facility.

Lake Sturgeon
In the Project Area, lake sturgeon are known to occur in Lake Ontario, and rivers
and streams in the vicinity of Lyme.83 Project facilities would not be sited in, or
require permanent modification to aquatic habitats that could potentially
support Lake Sturgeon within the Project Area, including the portions of Kents
Creek, Three Mile Creek, or the Chaumont River. Due to the relative lack of
habitat, range, or distribution within the Project Area, it is not anticipated that
the Project will have adverse impact on Lake Sturgeon. Additionally,
development-related impacts resulting from the Project’s construction and
operations will be limited primarily to terrestrial ecosystems, with some impacts
to wetlands. Standard sediment and erosion control procedures would be used
during construction to prevent sedimentation in the streambeds.

82 Installation Mission Growth Community Profile, Ft. Drum NY, November 2009, found at
http://www.oea.gov/OEAWeb.nsf/55A4C3C3FA792BB3852576C1005DA8FA/$File/drum_growt
h.pdf
83 NYNHP, 2007.

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Blanding’s Turtle
The October 2007 and June 2010 Riveredge Associates reconnaissance surveys
determined that potentially suitable Blanding’s turtle habitat in and around the
Project Area is present in four wetlands, however no Blanding’s turtles were
observed or caught during 2007 or 2010 surveys and no disturbance-related
impacts are anticipated for any of the four identified potential habitat areas. The
wetland at Site 4 is dominated by willow shrubs with some channels, small
shallow pools, basking sites, and hummocks. However, its relatively small size,
relatively shallow depth and distance from other identified Blanding’s habitat
reduce its suitability. Since turbine placement will not occur directly on
wetlands, the greatest potential impact on Blanding’s turtle populations in the
Project Area is likely to be during the construction phase when roads and
equipment staging areas are in heavy use. Specifically, increased vehicular
traffic on roads in or near upland areas that may be used by Blanding’s for
nesting or dispersal could pose impacts to Blanding’s turtles. Impacts from the
construction of access roads or turbine pads could cause interruption of
movement corridors or impacts to nesting areas. Construction related impacts
could also include destruction of actual nests or direct turtle fatalities, if nests are
built in construction zones. Fatalities as a result of automobile or construction
equipment collision on roads during and after construction are also possible.
However, due to the limited amount of identified suitable Blanding’s habitat
within the Project Area (four possible sites) and the absence of any observations
of Blanding’s during the June 2010 nesting activity/ trapping surveys, the
conclusion that there is low potential for temporary or permanent impacts to
Blanding’s as a result of construction or operations of the wind facility is
supported. Furthermore, best management practices and disturbance avoidance
and minimization measures will be implemented during construction during
times of nesting activity in order to avoid the potential for nest disturbance or
road collision during turtle movements. Such measures are discussed in the
following section, 2.10.3.

Significant Wildlife Habitats


The majority of the significant fish and wildlife coastal habitats (except the
Ashland Flats WMA) occur outside the Project boundary; therefore, there are no
temporary or permanent Project facilities proposed or associated impacts
anticipated as a result in these areas. Similarly, Project facilities are not sited
within the Ashland Flats WMA, so no direct impacts will occur in this area.
Operation of the Project, however, has the potential to impact the avian and bat
species that colonize these areas. For a further discussion of the potential
impacts to avian and bat resources, refer to Section 2.11.

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2.10.3 Mitigation Measures

Lake Sturgeon
As noted above, it is not anticipated that the Project will have adverse impact on
Lake Sturgeon. Potential water quality impacts that could harm the Lake
Sturgeon habitat will be avoided by minimizing impacts to waterways and
wetlands that contribute to the streams and to Lake Ontario where the Lake
Sturgeon may habitate. This will be accomplished through avoidance, or
through the use of construction best management practices and engineering
solutions to control runoff, sedimentation, spills, or any other potential adverse
impacts to aquatic ecosystems.

Blandings Turtle
As noted, access roads and electrical interconnects may all be re-routed to
varying degrees in order to avoid or minimize the impacts to sensitive or
protected natural resources. The results of the wetland and Blanding’s turtle
reconnaissance studies reported in this SDEIS were used design an array plan
and ancillary project infrastructure that minimizes impacts to sensitive natural
resources. In addition, complete wetlands delineation and site-specific
Blanding’s turtle assessments were conducted in all the corridors which would
be impacted by construction, to precisely identify the boundaries of these
features. Four areas were identified within the Project Area that had suitable
Blanding’s turtle habitat. Nesting activity studies were then conducted in these
areas in June 2010. No Blanding’s turtles were observed and no Blanding’s nests
were identified. The Project has been designed, based on these study results, to
avoid any impacts to these four potential areas of suitable habitat.

Based on the presence in the area of habitat which would support the Blanding’s
Turtle, BP Wind Energy is including the species in the State Incidental Take
Permit application that is being prepared pursuant to NYSDEC Article 11. This
application will include a detailed impact assessment, in addition to measures
designed to avoid and minimize impacts. Based on the results of surveys, it is
not anticipated that mitigation measures will be a necessary part of the Article 11
permit application. BP Wind Energy is nonetheless exploring conservation
efforts to protect and possibly expand existing Blanding’s Turtle habitat in the
Project area.

To ensure that any potential impacts to Blanding’s turtles are minimized,


avoided, and mitigated, all construction activities will incorporate standard best
management practices during construction and additionally, construction staff
will be trained to recognize the characteristics of important habitats and species
locations so they can effectively avoid activities in these areas and report
observations or identification of sensitive species or their habitats to the
appropriate designated official at BP Wind Energy or its designated
environmental consultants on site during construction.

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The following actions are recommended to minimize potential impacts to
Blanding’s turtles and their habitats:
1. Roadways and staging areas, to the extent possible, have been sited away
from potential nesting areas and the travel corridors between nesting
areas and identified potential Blanding’s turtle wetlands and suitable
habitat areas. If it is not possible to re-site roads and staging areas,
barriers and culverts/underpasses should be considered to either prevent
movement to or facilitate movement across these features. Site-specific
recommendations can be provided during later phases of the project.
2. Consider creating or enhancing potential nesting habitat in and around
turbine placements and equipment staging areas. Site-specific guidelines
for nest site creation or enhancement can be provided. Enhancement,
creation, or preservation of suitable Blanding’s Turtle habitat areas,
including nesting areas, is being considered as part of the mitigation
component of the Article 11 permit process with NYSDEC.
3. Avoid using Swamp Road as an access route during construction and
subsequent maintenance, particularly during the period from April -
September. Increases in traffic volume along this road will likely
negatively impact wetland-dependent wildlife by increasing mortality,
particularly amphibians and reptiles, during key dispersal periods.
4. Construction clearance activities will be completed to the extent possible
outside of the peak nesting season for Blanding’s turtles to avoid the risk
of removal of active nest sites in potential habitat. The peak nesting
season is defined as June 1 – July 1.

Significant Wildlife Habitats


The Project will fund and implement a pre- and post-construction study to
estimate the direct and indirect effects of Project operation, which will measure
the extent to which grassland birds are displaced as a result of landscape
alteration and/or operation of the turbines on density and species composition
of grassland birds.

2.11 AVIAN RESOURCES: ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING

The New York chapter of the National Audubon Society has identified one
Important Bird Area (IBA) near the Project Area, and one in the greater vicinity
of the Project Area. Point Peninsula IBA includes the large peninsula into Lake
Ontario approximately four miles southeast of the Project Area, on which Long
Point State Park is located. The Audubon Society considers this area to be one of
the most critical winter concentration areas for arctic breeding Rough-legged
Hawks, Snowy Owls, and New York endangered Short-eared Owls. In addition,
Point Peninsula Shoal, offshore of the site, is considered an important pre-
migratory staging area for Caspian Terns, state-endangered Black Terns and
state-threatened Common Terns. Breeding Common Terns and Short-eared
Owls have been documented at the site. The site also hosts waterfowl
numbering in the thousands, with offshore numbers in the tens of thousands.
This site is considered important primarily because it continues to harbor

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grassland habitat, declining regionally due to the sale and development of
farmland.84

The Perch River Complex IBA lies approximately ten miles east of the Project
Area and includes the Perch River WMA and surrounding areas. The Perch
River WMA is also designated in its entirety as a BCA by the New York State
Bird Conservation Area Program. This site includes three lakes and extensive
agricultural grasslands and is purported to support one of the largest
concentrations of breeding grassland birds in New York, as well as an
exceptional wetland bird community85. Sensitive habitat types found in the area
include high quality wetlands and open water bordered by deciduous forest,
shrubland, and open agricultural fields, and exemplary ecological communities
include deep emergent marsh, shallow emergent marsh, shrub swamp, and
forested wetlands.86 Several federally and State listed endangered and
threatened species are supported on the site, including the Bald Eagle, Black Rail,
Black Tern, Least Bittern, Upland Sandpipers, Sedge Wrens, and breeding
Northern Harriers. The site is also one of the state’s most important nesting sites
for Henslow’s Sparrows.87

As noted in Section 2.9.2.3, there are two WMAs, two Wildlife Concentration
Areas, and two raptor winter concentration areas in the vicinity of the Project
Area:
• Ashland Flats WMA/BCA
• French Creek WMA
• Fox Island-Grenadier Island Shoals water fowl winter concentration area
• Wilson Bay Marsh water fowl winter concentration area
• Grenadier Island raptor winter concentration area
• Point Peninsula raptor winter concentration area

These are discussed in further detail in Section 2.9.2.3.

Study Protocol and Consultation


In June 2006, BP Wind Energy contacted USFWS and NYSDEC to introduce the
Project and determine biological resources of concern for the Project. In response
to the issues and concerns identified, the company requested that Western
EcoSystems Technology, Inc. (WEST) develop study protocols to study avian and
bat resources in the vicinity, which was reviewed and approved by NYSDEC and
USFWS. The studies were designed to provide baseline information on avian
and bat resources and their use of the Project Area to evaluate potential impacts

84 Audubon 2004. The Important Bird Areas Historical Results. National Audubon Society.

Available at http://iba.audubon.org/iba/stateIndex.do?state=US-NY

85 Audubon Society – Site Profile, Perch River Complex


http://iba.audubon.org/iba/viewSiteProfile.do?siteId=778&navSite=state
86 BCA 2007.
87 Audubon, 2004.

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and relative risk of the Project. In addition, the study results could provide
recommendations to help minimize species exposure to risk of collisions with
turbines.

The pre-construction avian and bat studies began during the spring of 2006 and
included:
• Fall and spring nocturnal marine radar surveys for migrants;
• Fall and spring raptor migration surveys;
• Summer breeding bird surveys;
• Summer breeding bird surveys targeting grassland birds;
• Winter surveys for raptors and waterfowl;
• Nocturnal AnaBat surveys for migrant bats;
• Bat mist netting surveys; and
• Indiana bat telemetry.

The objective of these baseline studies was to describe and quantify use by avian
and bat species in the Project Area, as well as identify the presence of protected
species and their habitat. Surveys were also designed to include estimates of
density and altitude of migratory birds through the Project Area. The results of
these surveys are presented in several reports included in Appendix F.

2.11.1 Avian Surveys

2.11.1.1 Fall and Spring Nocturnal Marine Radar Survey

The nocturnal marine radar survey is designed to characterize migration over the
Project Area and determine the relative magnitude of the migration in
comparison to other sites. The factors considered, include: flight direction,
passage rates, and flight altitude of avian migrants. The 2006 fall survey was
conducted between August 15 and October 15, while the 2007 spring survey was
conducted between April 15 and June 1. Both surveys utilized a single X-band
marine radar unit, which was located in two distinct locations, approximately 1.5
kilometers (km) from the shoreline (a distance recommended by the USFWS and
NYSDEC).

Results from the nocturnal marine radar survey were similar to other radar
studies in New York and the eastern United States. The percentage of avian and
bat migrants that flew through the zone of risk (the rotor swept area) was low,
averaging eight percent in the fall and 14 percent in the spring. While the results
do indicate some elevated risk on some nights (due to weather events that may
influence migrant flight altitudes), overall collision risk to migrant birds and bats
is not expected to be greater than other sites studied in New York, where levels
of birds and bats observed below 125m have been between 8%-14%, as provided
by NYSDEC. A recent analysis of all publically available data from wind facilities
in New York and the eastern United States where both pre-construction radar

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and post-construction fatality monitoring studies were completed showed no
correlation between pre-construction radar metrics (passage rate, percent of
targets within the zone of risk, target direction and altitude) and post-
construction bird and bat fatality rates.88

2.11.1.2 Fall and Spring Raptor Migration Survey

The objective of the raptor migration survey is to observe raptors and other large
birds (e.g. waterfowl and corvids) in the sky during daylight hours to estimate
their spatial and temporal use of the Project Area. The study is designed
according to methods used by the Hawk Migration Association of North
America (HMANA). Three fixed-point survey locations were established for
2006 and 2007 surveys. During 2008 surveys, an additional two survey points
were arrayed in reference areas further inland from Lake Ontario and outside the
proposed development area. All surveys were completed using a standardized
protocol which included recording all birds, flight height and behavior observed
within an 800-m (approximately 0.5 mile) radius. Raptor use was calculated as
the number of observations/20-minute survey and exposure indices were
calculated for the proportion of raptors observed flying within the Zone of Risk.

The 2006 spring surveys were completed between April 14 – May 12 and the 2006
fall surveys were conducted from September 23 – November 11. Spring surveys
were conducted in 2007 from March 21 through May 1, and in 2008 between
March 22 and May 28. The timing of these surveys was coordinated with
NYSDEC and was based on available information from migrant raptor watch
stations in northern and western New York.89 The NYSDEC expressed specific
concern for migrant golden eagles potentially present within the Project Area.

A total of 21 surveys were conducted on seven days within the Project Area,
during which 1,039 birds were recorded. Fourteen surveys were conducted at the
reference points during which 5,273 birds were recorded (86.6% of which were
Canada geese). A total of 137 raptors were recorded within the project area
compared to 99 at reference points; when adjusted for number of surveys mean
use in the two areas was very similar (3.38 compared to 3.36 raptors/survey,
respectively). Similar raptor species were recorded in the project and reference
areas, with the exception that a golden eagle and a peregrine falcon were
recorded in the project area and not at the reference points, and a bald eagle was
recorded at the reference points and not within the project area.

No unusual species were observed during the raptor migration surveys,


therefore the species of raptors observed during studies are characterized as
typical of central New York. Central New York could more accurately be

88 Tidhar, D., C. Nations, and D.P. Young. 2010. What Have We Learned from Pre-Construction

Radar Studies? Presented at the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (NWCC) Wind
Wildlife Research Meeting VIII, October 19-21, 2010. Lakewood, Colorado.
89 WEST. 2007. Draft Avian and Bat Studies for the Proposed Cape Vincent Wind Project, Jefferson

County, New York – Interim Spring Report. Wyoming. January 23, 2007.

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described as northern NY; however, the same species of raptors would be
expected in central or northern New York. No federally-listed species were
observed; however, a single golden eagle (state endangered) was recorded
during spring 2008.

However, the golden eagle is considered extirpated within New York, defined as
a species that is not extinct, but no longer occurring in a wild state within New
York, or no longer exhibiting patterns of use traditional for that species in New
York (e.g. historical breeders no longer breeding here; Four state-listed species
were recorded: one golden eagle (state-endangered; 2008), one peregrine falcon
(state-endangered; 2008), one common tern (state-threatened; 2007), and 64
northern harriers (state-threatened; all years). The golden eagle is considered
extirpated within New York, defined as a species that is not extinct, but no
longer occurring in a wild state within New York, or no longer exhibiting
patterns of use traditional for that species in New York (e.g. historical breeders
no longer breeding here; NYDEC 2010). Five state species of special concern were
recorded: two Cooper’s hawks (2007), four sharp-shinned hawks (2006 and
2008), one northern goshawk (2007), two red-shouldered hawks (2008), and five
osprey (all years). One bald eagle (state-threatened), one upland sandpiper
(state-threatened), nine northern harriers, three sharp-shinned hawks, four red-
shouldered hawks, and two osprey were also recorded at reference points
outside of the project area in 2008.

During 2008 spring raptor migration surveys, the number of raptor observations
per 20-minute survey per survey point, or raptor use, was similar for all raptor
species overall when comparing the Project (3.38) and reference areas (3.36).
These results suggest that the Project is not situated in an area with higher raptor
migration activity relative to the surrounding area. Raptor use within the
Project Area varied between years, with 4.16 raptors/20-minute survey/point
observed during 2006, 4.67 in 2007 and 3.38 observed during 2008.

The Project Area has less migratory traffic than the known hawk watch sites in
New York, based on a standardization of raptors observed per survey hour. In
general, raptors observed in the Project Area during migration studies did not
have elevated exposure indices, a common method for estimating risk to
individual species form wind turbines, due to either low numbers recorded or
flight heights outside of the zone of risk. Comparing spring raptor migration
data from the proposed project with other nearby proposed wind-energy
facilities indicates that the Project Area is not located in an area with high spring
raptor migration relative to other proposed commercial wind-energy facilities.
When data were adjusted for differences in number of survey hours, slightly
more raptors were observed at the Clayton Wind Resource Area (12.1
raptors/observer hr) and the St Lawrence Wind Resource Area (mean: 9.29;
range: 7.58-11.0) compared to the Project Area (mean: 7.62; range (6.58-9.76).

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2.11.1.3 Breeding Bird Survey

Timing for the 2006 breeding bird surveys was based on the regional timing
recommendations made by the 2001 USGS Breeding Bird Survey in central New
York.90 The objective of this study is to characterize the spatial and temporal use
of the general Project Area by breeding resident birds with survey points that
cover all of the various habitat types within the Project Area, resulting in the
selection of 20 survey points. Surveys were conducted twice at each site on June
29 and July 6, 2006, with a survey effort concentrated on a 400 m radius around
each observation point.

The results of the breeding bird surveys were typical of agricultural settings in
central New York and do not appear to have any large or unusual populations of
breeding resident birds. Frequently recorded species included bobolink, red-
winged blackbird, and song sparrow. A few woodland species, such as wood
thrush and ovenbird, were observed in small wooded areas and wetlands
scattered throughout the Project Area. Several species of gull and waterfowl are
also present in the area due to the proximity to the shoreline. Five species listed
by the NYSDEC were observed: northern harrier, Henslow’s sparrow, horned
lark, grasshopper sparrow, and vesper sparrow. Northern harrier and
Henslow’s sparrow are listed as state threatened species and the remaining three
are state-listed species of concern.

2.11.1.4 Winter Surveys for Raptors and Waterfowl

Due to the coastal nature of the Project Area, potential impacts to waterfowl and
raptors that frequent the area during migration and winter was raised as a
concern by the NYSDEC. As a result, winter and early spring surveys were
conducted to estimate spatial and temporal use of the Project Area by raptors
and waterfowl. These studies were conducted by driving transects and
conducting 30-minute point count surveys on nine days between November 5,
2006 and March 1, 2007. Two species of waterbird, two species of waterfowl, and
six species of raptors were recorded. The vast majority of the waterfowl use of
the Site was of Canada goose. The most common raptor species recorded were
rough-legged hawk and red-tailed hawk. These raptors have a relatively low
exposure index. Two short-eared owls, a state-endangered species, and 14
northern harriers, a state threatened species, were observed during surveys.
These species are being addressed in the state Article 11 Incidental Take Permit
application process.

Overall, 123 bird species were observed during all surveys performed by WEST
from 2006-2010. Table 2.11-1 below summarizes the rare, threatened,
endangered, or state species of concern birds seen and total number of
observations during all surveys (2006-2010) at the Project Area.

90 WEST, 2007.

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TABLE 2.11-1: Summary of All Rare, Threatened, Endangered, or State Species of Concern Birds
Seen at Cape Vincent Project Area During All Avian Surveys, April 2006- July
2010

Species No. of Groups Observed Individuals observed


American bittern 16 16
Bald eagle 3 3
Cooper’s Hawk 5 6
Common loon 2 2
Common tern 1 1
Golden eagle 1 1
Grasshopper sparrow 89 95
Henslow’s sparrow 1 1
Northern goshawk 1 1
Northern harrier 181 208
Osprey 9 9
Pied-billed grebe 1 1
Peregrine falcon 3 3
Red-shouldered hawk 5 6
Short-eared owl 1 2
Sedge wren 25 25
Sharp-shinned hawk 9 9
Upland sandpiper 7 7
Vesper sparrow 18 18

2.11.2 Bat Surveys

AnaBat II ultrasonic bat detectors were used to record the relative abundance of
echo-locating bats flying within the sampling area during the 2006 summer
breeding season and the spring and fall migration seasons, and during the 2008
fall migration season. Spring sampling was conducted between April 13 and
June 2, 2006 with three AnaBat sampling locations established. Two of the three
units remained during the summer sampling season (June 28 – August 8, 2006).
A mobile “roaming” AnaBat unit was deployed nine nights during the summer
as well to assess resident/breeding bat species present within the Project Area at
habitats likely to have high numbers of resident bats. The 2006 fall AnaBat
surveys were conducted between August 13 and October 9; this time, AnaBat
detectors were deployed at three different heights: ground level, 25 meters and
50 meters. During the period August 4, 2008 to October 15, 2008, bat activity was
monitored at four fixed ground sampling locations. The total number of calls
and number of calls per night recorded varied by season.

Activity at the ground based unit in fall 2006 was much higher than at the four
ground based units in fall 2008 (9.90 compared to 3.43 bat passes per detector-
nights, respectively). This difference may be due in part to the effect of white
nose syndrome on cave-dwelling bats in the eastern U.S. White nose syndrome
was first discovered at Howe Cave, near Albany, New York in 2006 and has since
spread across the northeast and mid-Atlantic states and as far west as Oklahoma
and Missouri. The disease has caused a decrease of between 30-99% (mean 73%)

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in some hibernacula counts within two years; has affected at least seven bat
species, including the federally-endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis); and has
the potential to cause the regional extinction of the little brown bat (M. lucifugus;
Frick et al. 2010).

A full discussion of the sampling methods and results is presented in. the Avian
and Bat Studies for the Proposed Cape Vincent Wind Project, prepared by WEST
(see Appendix F).

At least four species of bats were positively identified. Due to similarity of call
characteristics, two species (big brown and silver-haired bat) were lumped into
one species category. The other species identified are the Eastern red bat and
hoary bat. As is typical of AnaBat call analysis, the majority of calls were not
identifiable to the species level. The Myotis-like calls were further analyzed by a
NYSDEC recommended biologist and identified by statistical analyses to
determine presence of a federally endangered Myotis species, Indiana bat, within
the Project Area. The Project Area is within the recognized range of Indiana bat
in New York and suitable habitat is present. There is a known Indiana bat winter
hibernaculum near Watertown. The results of the AnaBat surveys suggest that
Indiana bats may be present.

Assessing whether bat composition may have changed between 2006 and 2008
based on acoustic data is confounded by the evolution in analysis methods
between study years. In 2006 bat calls were classified to species following
methods developed by Britzke et al (2001, 2002 and 2003). In 2008, calls were
classified using a more conservative method into frequency groups. Bat calls
classified to species in 2006 accounted for only 36 % of recorded bat calls during
the fall (August 13 – October 9, 2006) sampling period, whereas 100% of bat calls
were classified to a frequency group in fall 2008.

Based on these results, mist-netting surveys were conducted during the summer
of 2007 and 2008 to evaluate the presence of Indiana bats. These studies
confirmed that Indiana bats are present within the Project Area, and telemetry
data were gathered from captured Indiana bats, which helped to identify travel
corridors within the Project site. Telemetry data also confirmed the presence and
location of potential maternity colonies and roosting areas within the Project
Area.

No additional mist netting was done in 2009 or 2010 due to the effects of White
Nose Syndrome on the Indiana Bat population. It has been proposed that the
declines in population due to White Nose Syndrome has significantly reduced
the meaningfulness of data collected from mist netting, and there are concerns of
survey methodologies like mist-netting or harp trapping on an already stressed
population.

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2.11.3 Grassland Birds – Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Upland Sandpiper and
Henslow’s Sparrow

State-listed threatened and endangered species considered by the NYSDEC to be


at risk of take by construction or operation of the Project include five state-listed
threatened and endangered grassland bird species (northern harrier, short-eared
owl, Henslow’s sparrow, sedge wren and upland sandpiper). Observations of
several state-listed bird species were made during 2006-2008 field surveys (see
Section 2.11); however, 2006-2008 bird survey field protocols used were not
designed to specifically survey for these five species. To address concerns over
the potential impact development of the Project may have on grassland birds, BP
Wind Energy contracted WEST to design and conduct a pre-construction study
targeting grassland bird species at the Project during the 2010 breeding bird
season. The objective of these surveys was to determine the extent of use of rare,
threatened or endangered (RTE) bird species during the breeding season. Other
aims of the study included: (1) collection of data useful for Project planning; (2)
collection of data useful for the NYSDEC and other natural resource agencies; (3)
implementation of a study design which may be easily replicated both at the
Project and at other proposed wind-energy facilities, and (4) implementation of a
study design which may be replicated as part of post-construction wildlife
surveys. WEST designed a study plan consistent with the aims of the NYSDEC
Region 6 Grassland Bird Protocol but which used different methods reviewed
and approved by NYSDEC prior to survey implementation.

Field Surveys
Between May and July 2010, WEST completed a grassland bird study using a
combination of a gradient analysis study design and the Before/After study
design. Songbird density data and vegetation data were collected along a
continuum (transect) from the turbines out to 300 m, as well as at reference
transects that do not include turbines. The before and after periods are
incorporated by conducting an analysis of the changes in relative abundance
(densities) from the pre- to post-construction periods. Thirty-seven transects
were arrayed at proposed turbine locations in addition to 12 reference transects.
Each transect was 300-m long and surveyors recorded all birds heard or seen
within 50-m. Surveys were completed during four rounds that coincided with
the peak breeding season for the target grassland birds: May 20-21, June 9-10,
2010, June 25-26 and July 7-8, 2010. Surveys were conducted from sunrise to
1000 hours (hrs). Rare, threatened, or endangered species observed incidentally
were also mapped and recorded by surveyors.

No federal threatened or endangered species were observed during grassland


breeding bird transect surveys.

Overall, all grassland/sparrow species comprised approximately 10% of overall


adjusted bird use during survey rounds 1 and 2 and approximately 13% of
overall adjusted bird use during rounds 3 and 4. No short-eared owls were
observed during 2010 surveys; none were observed during previous summer
surveys completed at the Project. Other rare, threatened, or endangered birds

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recorded during 2010 surveys are summarized in Table 2.11-2. One Henslow’s
sparrow, 11 northern harriers, 25 sedge wren and six upland sandpipers were
observed in both reference areas and within the Project Area during 189 transect
surveys and incidentally.

TABLE 2.11-2: Summary of Sensitive Species Observed During the 2010 Breeding Grassland
Bird Transect Surveys (Trans.) and as Incidental Wildlife Observations (Inc.)
Within Cape Vincent Wind Resource Area; May 20 – July 9, 2010.

Trans. Inc. Total


# of # of # of # of # of # of
Species Scientific Name Status grps obs grps obs grps obs
American bittern Botaurus lentiginosus SSC 16 16 0 0 16 16
Cooper's hawk Accipiter cooperii SSC 1 1 0 0 1 1
Ammodramus
grasshopper sparrow savannarum SSC 85 90 1 1 86 91
Henslow's sparrow Ammodramus henslowii ST 1 1 0 0 1 1
northern harrier Circus cyaneus ST 7 7 4 4 11 11
Osprey Pandion haliaetus SSC 1 1 0 0 1 1
pied-billed grebe Podilymbus podiceps ST 1 1 0 0 1 1
sedge wren Cistothorus platensis ST 23 23 2 2 25 25
upland sandpiper Bartramia longicauda ST 2 2 4 4 6 6
vesper sparrow Pooecetes gramineus SSC 18 18 0 0 18 18
sharp-shinned hawk Accipiter striatus SSC 0 0 1 1 1 1
Total 11 species 155 160 12 12 167 172
ST = state threatened
SSC = state special concern

2.11.4 Comparison to Other Wind Projects

Nocturnal Marine Radar Survey


Results from the nocturnal radar study conducted at the Project Area differ in
some aspects from other sites studied in New York and the eastern U.S. The
results of radar studies at other proposed and existing wind power project sites
in the U.S. have been documented by Young, et al. Mean passage rates for fall
2006 were higher (346 t/km/hr) than the average for NY and the eastern U.S.
(262 t/km/hr); however, these results are not the highest passage rates reported
at other New York sites. Similar passage rates were observed at a proposed site
in Jordanville, New York, located in central New York. Mean flight direction for
the Cape Vincent study was 209º, slightly more southwesterly than other studies
conducted during fall migration. This prevailing direction may be related more
to the shape of the shoreline located within 1.5 km of the radar station than to
flight direction over the entire Project Area. Mean flight height of targets was
approximately 490 m, which is similar to other studies in NY and the eastern U.S.
The highest percentage of targets occurred above the zone of risk from turbine
blades. The percent of targets (7.7%) that flew through the zone of risk, defined
as below 125 m, was similar to other studies in which flight height was recorded
with vertical mode radar.

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Raptor Migration Surveys
Typical raptor species for central New York were observed during the surveys.
No federally-listed species were observed; however, two state-listed endangered
species (SE) species were observed (two peregrine falcons [fall 2006] and one
golden eagle [spring 2008], four state-listed threatened species (ST) were also
recorded during spring raptor migration surveys (common tern [spring 2007],
upland sandpiper [spring 2008], bald eagle [spring 2008], and northern harrier
[spring 2006, 2007 and 2008], and six New York species of special concern (SC;
Cooper’s hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, northern goshawk, red-shouldered hawk,
osprey and common loon) were observed during surveys. Only two individual
peregrine falcons were observed during the fall 2006 survey season; therefore,
exposure index for this species is very low (0.07). Northern harriers are, in
general, low-level fliers and were often observed flying below the zone of risk
(86% in spring 206, 64% in fall 2006). Despite their presence within the Project
Area, exposure risk to this species is low (0.08 in spring, 0.67 in fall 2006).

Based on a standardization of raptors observed per survey hour, the Project Area
has less traffic than the known hawk watch sites in New York. The nearest
spring hawk watch site to the Project Area, Derby Hill Bird Observatory, was
somewhat variable over the same survey days; however, the overall mean
number of raptors observed per surveyor hour was far greater. Large numbers
of broad-winged hawks were observed at Derby Hill on April 21, 2006; however,
surveys within the Project Area failed to record high numbers of this species
passing over the site. However, to capture earlier periods of the migration
season in order to obtain a more complete picture of spring raptor migration
through the Project Area, additional years of spring raptor migration surveys
were conducted in 2007 and 2008. Both years included longer survey windows
to capture the early spring migration period. The spring 2008 survey also
included sampling within reference areas located further inland from Lake
Ontario. Derby Hill Bird Observatory recorded larger pulses of turkey vultures,
red-tailed hawks, and red-shouldered hawks during March 2006, particularly
during the last two weeks. Higher numbers of sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s
hawks, bald eagles, and golden eagles were also observed in the six weeks prior
to April 14. Spring surveys at the Project Area did not record any bald eagles,
golden eagles, or red-shouldered hawks.

There are no fall hawk watch sites along the lake shoreline in central New York.
The nearest fall site, Kestrel Haven, located in south central New York, was
lower than the Project Area in terms of raptors counted per surveyor hour;
however, count data for this site are only available for 2005. Fall hawk watch
sites further south and east, such as Franklin Mountain, record similar numbers
of migrant raptors which are likely taking advantage of ridgelines of the western
Appalachian Mountains; however, timing is different among sites. Some fall
survey days recorded more raptors/surveyor hour than established hawk watch
sites in central and eastern New York. According to information provided by
NYSDEC, the range of spring migrating raptors per observer hour for proposed
wind project sites in New York ranges from 0 to 12.1. During the baseline
studies in 2007, 9.8 raptors were observed per observer hour in the spring at the

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Cape Vincent Project Area, putting it in the high end of the range for other
proposed wind projects in New York. Comparing the Project Area to high raptor
concentration areas provides the worst case scenario for potential impacts. In
general, for sites where wind projects have been proposed (based on the
NYSDEC data), numbers of migrating raptors have been low compared to the
worst case scenario.

Comparing the Project Area to other wind sites where mortality studies have
been conducted and raptor migration passage rates are available provides the
most utility for estimating potential impacts. Unfortunately, no spring raptor
migration surveys were conducted at the Maple Ridge wind project, which has
been monitored for two years and provides estimates of raptor mortality for a
New York site. Results of three years of spring migration raptor surveys confirm
the statement that there is little to concentrate raptor movement through the
study area. The average number of raptors per observer hour for the project area
has varied from 2.9 to 9.8. When compared to Hawk watch sites (e.g. Derby
Hills) which do have conditions for concentrating raptor movement there is no
evidence to suggest a significant flight path for spring migrant raptors through
the area. An analysis of the land form in the Project Area shows that northward
bound migrants would have to track in a westerly direction to cross the Cape
Vincent peninsula if they were following the shoreline. A more likely scenario is
that northward migrants continue in a northerly direction as they pass through
the Watertown area and actually pass east of the Project Area. Based on
information from the NYSDEC, the Clayton wind project, which is east of Cape
Vincent but still west of a northerly track from Derby Hill, had 12 raptors per
observer hour which generally supports this theory that more raptors migrate
east of Cape Vincent.

The number of raptors observed during the fall migration is slightly higher than
expected for this predominantly agricultural peninsula. Relatively high numbers
of northern harrier, a known summer resident, recorded during early fall may
influence overall fall passage rates. Numbers of actual migrants moving through
the area may be lower than the average (5.5 raptors/surveyor hour) presented
here. Overall, three years of spring migration surveys have been conducted to
date. Variation in spring raptor migration patterns was evident between 2006,
2007 and 2008 survey years, with raptor use (expressed as the number of raptor
observations per 20-minute survey per survey point) highest during 2007 (4.67)
and lowest during 2008 (3.38). Survey results from 2008 indicated little variation
in raptor use between reference areas and the Project, suggesting the Project is
not located in an area with higher raptor migration activity during the spring
compared with the surrounding area.

Breeding Bird Survey


The results of the breeding bird surveys were typical of agricultural settings in
central New York. Frequently recorded species included bobolink, red-winged
blackbird, and song sparrow. A few woodland species, such as wood thrush and
ovenbird, were observed in small wooded areas and wetlands scattered
throughout the Project Area. Several species of gulls and waterfowl are also

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present in the area due to the proximity to the shoreline. The closest breeding
bird survey was performed by Sauer in Watertown in 2005 and reported similar
species occurrences and abundances. Five species listed by the NYSDEC were
observed within the Project Area: northern harrier, Henslow’s sparrow, horned
lark, grasshopper sparrow, and vesper sparrow. Northern harrier and
Henslow’s sparrow are listed as threatened. The remaining three species are
listed as Species of Special Concern for New York. Bobolink, Henslow’s
sparrow, and wood thrush are included on the 2002 Birds of Conservation
Concern list for Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain region91 which includes
the area of the Project.

2.12 AVIAN RESOURCES: IMPACTS

In general, disruption to avian and bat species that may be caused during
construction related impacts to habitat are discussed in Section 2.10. Potential
impacts anticipated to result from project operation are discussed below.

Wind energy development has the potential to cause direct loss of habitat where
infrastructure is located and indirect loss of habitat through behavioral
avoidance and habitat fragmentation. Direct loss of habitat associated with wind
energy development is relatively minor for most species compared to most other
forms of energy development. Behavioral avoidance, however, may render
much larger areas unsuitable or less suitable for some species of wildlife,
depending on how far the species are displaced from wind energy facilities. The
greatest concern with displacement impacts for wind energy facilities in North
America has been where these facilities have been constructed in native habitats
such as grasslands or shrublands92 93 . Additionally, concerns have been raised
regarding the potential for wind turbines to cause displacement to migrating and
wintering birds that may utilize cropland as feeding or stopover habitat.

As noted in 2.10.1.2, removal of forest habitat and perch trees would eliminate
perching and roosting habitat for several species of raptors that are common to
the region as well as wild turkey; however, displaced individuals would re-
establish perches and roosts in the remaining large undisturbed habitats in the
Project Area. The disturbance area footprint of wind projects is minor compared
to the overall area in which the project occurs. Most of the resources available to
birds in the Project Area remain unaffected and available for use after the Project
is constructed.

There is no information that supports the assumption that remaining intact


perching, foraging, travel, or reproductive habitats or resources would not be

91 USFWS. 2002. National Wetlands Inventory: A Strategy for the 21st Century. US Fish and
Wildlife Service. January 2002.
92 EFFECTS OF WIND TURBINES ON UPLAND NESTING BIRDS IN CONSERVATION

RESERVE PROGRAM GRASSLANDS; KRECIA L. LEDDY,‘v3 KENNETH E HIGGINS,2,5 and


DAVID E. NAUGLE1x4, 1999, The Wilson Bulletin
93 Mabey, S., and E. Paul. 2007. Critical literature review: impact of wind energy and related 1068

human activities on grassland and shrub-steppe birds. The National Wind Coordinating 1069
Collaborative, RESOLVE Inc., Washington, DC.

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available after the project is constructed and operating, either due to land use
changes or elevated noise levels. Therefore, no displacement is expected on this
basis.

However, wildlife mortality due to avian and bat impacts and bat hyperbaric
trauma are concerns that result from wind turbine operation. The following
sections address this issue.

2.12.1 Potential Impacts to Migratory Birds

Given the nature of avian migration in New York and along the Great Lakes
shorelines, passage rates are expected to be slightly higher at the Project Area in
spring. A radar study conducted near the Lake Erie shoreline in New York
(Chautauqua) reported passage rates approximately 1.5 times higher in spring
than in fall. Additionally, passage rates recorded at the Project Area may be
influenced locally by the close proximity of the radar unit to the St. Lawrence
River shoreline (<1.5 km). Though this distance was recommended by NYSDEC
and USFWS, the fixed radar location was not within the Project Area and
passage rates may be lower further inland where actual turbine construction is
proposed. Despite higher than average passage rates near the shoreline, collision
risk to migrants within the Project Area is expected to be low given the average
flight height and proportion of birds passing within the zone of risk.

2.12.2 Potential Impacts to Breeding Birds

Based on the breeding bird survey data collected in 2006 and 2010, the Project
Area does not appear to have any large or unusual populations of breeding
resident birds. Mortality surveys from two other eastern wind projects studied
indicate that turbines on eastern mountain ridgelines result in between four and
eight bird fatalities per turbine per year (see Kerns 94, Kerlinger 95, and Nicholson
96). In both these studies, it was estimated that approximately two-thirds of the

avian fatalities were migrants. Provided impacts at the Project Area are similar, it
is not expected that the Project will pose great risk to breeding resident birds.
Due to the diversity of birds recorded in the mixed farmland habitat, impacts are
expected to be spread over several commonly observed species, especially gulls,
Canada goose, turkey vulture and American crow.

94 Kerns, J., W.P. Erickson and E.B. Arnett. 2005. Bat and Bird Fatality at Wind Energy Facilities
1007 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Pages 24-95 in E.B. Arnett, ed. Relationships Between 1008
Bats and Wind Turbines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia: an Assessment of Bat Fatality 1009
Search Protocols, Patterns of Fatality, and Behavioral Interactions with Wind Turbines. A Final
1010 Report Submitted to the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative. Bat Conservation International,
1011 Austin, TX. Available: http://www.batsandwind.org/main.asp?page=products
95 Kerlinger, P. 2004. Prevention and mitigation of avian impacts at wind power facilities. Pages

1002 84-85 in Proceedings of the Wind Energy and Birds/Bats Workshop: Understanding and 1003
Resolving Bird and Bat Impacts. Washington, D.C. May 18-19, 2004. Prepared by 1004 RESOLVE,
Inc., Washington, D.C., Susan Savitt Schwartz, editor
96 Nicholson, C.P. 2003. Buffalo Mountain Windfarm Bird and Bat Mortality Monitoring Report:

October 2001 - September 2002. Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tennessee. February 2003

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2.12.3 Potential Impacts to Bats

The number of bat calls per night as determined from AnaBat detectors shows a
rough correlation with bat mortality, but may be misleading because effort,
timing of sampling, and detector settings (equipment and locations) varied
among studies. In addition, risk to bats from turbines is unequal across species
and seasons 97. The post-construction mortality data collected at existing regional
projects appears to be the best available predictor of mortality levels and species
composition for proposed wind projects.

Assessing the potential impacts of the Project on bats is complicated because the
proximate and ultimate causes of bat mortality at turbines are poorly understood
9899 100 and because monitoring elusive, night-flying animals is inherently

difficult.101 Although installed capacity of wind development has increased


rapidly in recent years, the availability of well-designed studies from existing
projects lags development of proposed projects.102 However, to date, monitoring
studies at wind-energy facilities suggest that:

• bat mortality shows a rough correlation with bat activity (Kunz et al.
2007b);
• the majority of fatalities appear to occur during the post-breeding or fall
migration season (roughly August and September);
• long-distance migratory tree-roosting species (e.g. eastern red [Lasiurus
borealis], hoary [L. cinereus], and silver-haired bats [Lasionycteris
noctivagans) comprise almost 75% of casualties; and
• the highest reported fatalities occur at wind-energy facilities located
along forested ridge tops in the eastern U.S., though recent studies in
agricultural regions of Iowa and Alberta, Canada, also report relatively
high fatalities.

Based on these patterns, current guidance for estimating potential impacts of


proposed wind-energy facilities involves evaluating bat acoustic data to
determine seasonal variation in activity levels and species composition with a
comparison with regional patterns 103.

97 Johnson, G. D. 2005. A review of bat mortality at wind-energy developments in the United


States. Bat Research News 46:45–49
98 Kunz, T.H., E.B. Arnett, W.P. Erickson, A.R. Hoar, G.D. Johnson, R.P. Larkin. M.D. Strickland,

R.W. Thresher, and M.D. Tuttle. 2007b. Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats:
questions, research needs and hypotheses. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5(6): 315-324.
99 Baerwald, E.F., J. Edworthy, M. Holder, and R.M.R. Barclay. 2009. A large-scale mitigation

experiment to reduce bat fatalities at wind energy facilities. Journal of Wildlife Management 73(7):
1077-1081.
100 Cryan, P. M. And R. M. R. Barclay. 2009. Causes of bat fatalities at wind turbines: hypotheses

and preditctions. J. Mammal, 90:1330-1340


101 O’Shea, T. J., M. A. Bogan, and L. E. Ellison. 2003. Monitoring trends in bat populations

of the United States and territories: status of the science and recommendations for
the future. Wildlife Society Bulletin 31(1):16-29.
102 Kuntz et al. 2007b)
103 Kunz, T. H., et al. 2007b. Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions,

research needs, and hypotheses. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5:315–324

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There are few instances where both bat activity and bat mortality have been
recorded at wind-energy facilities and where results are comparable. For this
reason, a definitive relationship between pre-construction bat activity and post-
construction bat mortality has not been established empirically. From the data
available, there appears to be a positive correlation between the two variables
and there is the expectation amongst the scientific and resource management
communities that when more data become available this relationship will hold104.
Datasets such as that provided by the current study will further contribute to our
understanding of this relationship. Table 4 summarizes the results of publically
available activity and fatality data from wind-energy facilities in the eastern US.
To the author’s knowledge, activity data were collected using ground-based
Anabat™ detectors such as those used in the current study.

Fatality estimates from post-construction monitoring studies at wind-energy


facilities in the eastern U.S. range from 1.40 to 39.7 bats/MW/year. Bat activity at
ground based units at the Project site was 9.90 bat passes per detector-night in
2008 and 3.43 bat passes per detector-night in 2006 (mean: 6.67); values that are
lower than at three of the four facilities where activity has been recorded.
Activity at these three facilities ranged from 23.7 to 38.3 bat passes per detector-
night (activity at the fourth was 0.30). Fatality estimates at these four facilities
ranged from 1.40 to 31.7 bats/MW/study period. Based on the relationship
between activity and mortality at these sites, bat fatality rates for the Project are
likely to be higher than at Stetson Mountain (1.40 bats/MW/study period) but
lower than at Mountaineer, WV, Buffalo Mountain, TN (2000-2002), and Mount
Storm, WV (2008; mean: 25.2 bats/MW/study period).

The number of bats detected per night at the Cape Vincent met tower was
highest in summer (23.33 calls/night) and fall (10.13 calls/night). These results
are similar to the results of mortality studies of bats at wind projects in the U.S.,
which have shown a peak in mortality in August and September. While the
survey efforts varied among the different studies, studies that included AnaBat
surveys and fatality surveys showed a general association between the timing of
bat calls and timing of mortality, with both peak call rates and peak mortality
occurring during the fall. When compared to results from other wind projects
(see Table 9 in WEST’s Avian and Bat Studies for the Proposed Cape Vincent
Wind Project, Appendix F), bat activity collected at the project met tower
suggests lower mortality rates for bats, should the Project be developed.

Bat activity recorded at the riparian location during spring migration and
summer breeding seasons is considerably higher than that recorded at the met
tower. Activity at the riparian sampling location ranges from 172 calls/night in
spring to 48 calls/night in summer 2006. The high number of calls during late
spring and summer may suggest a breeding colony nearby; however, many of
the calls recorded during this time were not identifiable to the species level.
Consistent differences in bat activity between met and riparian locations may be

104Kunz, T. H., et al.. 2007a. Assessing impacts of wind-energy development on nocturnally active
birds and bats: a guidance document. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:2449–2486

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due largely to habitat at the sampling locations. Very little habitat for roosting or
foraging bats exists near the met tower, which is located in a large open pasture.
Acoustic sampling at the met tower, a location recommended by federal and
state agencies, may underestimate bat activity by focusing sampling in habitats
not preferred by bats. A comparison of bat activity recorded at the riparian area
within the Project Area with activity/mortality results from other wind projects
(see Table 9 in WEST’s Avian and Bat Studies for the Proposed Cape Vincent
Wind Project, Appendix F) predicts mortality rates similar to or higher than
those experienced in West Virginia or Tennessee. Ultimately, predicted risk to
migratory and breeding bats using acoustic monitoring is limited in its utility
and results are conflicting.

2.12.4 Potential Impacts to Federal Threatened and Endangered Species

The Indiana bat, a federally listed as an endangered species, is present in the


Project Area. Indiana bats are known to winter in hibernacula near Watertown
and movement of females dispersing from hibernacula to breeding areas was
tracked by NYSDEC from 2002 –2006. Individuals have been recorded traveling
up to 40 miles from wintering areas and several dispersing females were
reported in Clayton, New York; within 10 miles of the proposed Project Area.
Suitable roosting habitat, characterized by trees or snags >5 inches in diameter
with exfoliating bark and cracks/crevices, is present within the Project Area.
Additionally, several riparian areas and wetlands, such as farm ponds and
floodplain forests, within the Project Area provide foraging habitat for the
species.

2.12.5 Impacts to Grassland Birds

The target grassland birds (northern harrier, short-eared owl, Henslow’s


sparrow, sedge wren and upland sandpiper) are anticipated to be affected by
direct and indirect impacts from the Project. With the exception of short-eared
owl, impacts to the target grassland birds are anticipated to occur primarily
during the breeding season. Impacts to short-eared owl are anticipated to occur
primarily during the over-wintering period. Direct impacts from wind energy
facilities refer to fatalities resulting from flying birds being killed directly by
collisions with wind turbine rotors or towers, project meteorological (met)
towers, or other means such as electrocution or vehicle collision. Indirect impacts
of wind energy development refer to disruptions of foraging behavior, breeding
activities, and migratory patterns resulting from alterations in landscapes used
by birds. Direct and indirect impacts on birds can contribute to increased
mortality, alterations in the availability of food, roost and nest resources,
increased risk of predation, and potentially altered demographics, genetic
structure, and population viability. The most probable direct impact to birds
from wind energy facilities is direct mortality or injury due to collisions with
turbines or guy wires of met towers. Collisions may occur with residents
foraging and flying within the project area or with migrants seasonally moving
through the project area.

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Overall, grassland birds represent less than one percent of the published avian
fatalities from operating wind energy facilities in the northeast and in New York
State. Those grassland bird species which have been most directly impacted at
New York facilities include common species such as eastern kingbird (Tyrannus
tyrannus), American kestrel (Falco sparverius) and savannah sparrow (Passerculus
sandwichensis). Avian mortality at New York wind energy projects has been
primarily comprised of passerines, similar to national trends, with unidentified
passerine (63; 19%), golden-crowned kinglet (Regulus satrapa; 56; 18%) and red-
eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus; 28; 9%) the most frequently recorded.

2.12.6 Mitigation

To date, the Altamont Pass wind-energy facility has the highest recorded overall
raptor and vulture use and fatality rate of any wind-energy facility (Erickson et
al. 2002). Current research has not determined if the high fatality rate at
Altamont Pass is due to the older turbine type used in the wind-energy facility,
the high raptor use of the area, topography, prey abundance, or the presence of
native habitat. Kerlinger et al. (2005) reported a relatively high fatality rate for
American kestrels (Falco sparverius) at the High Winds Project in California
which utilizes new generation turbines. American kestrel use at that wind-
energy facility was approximately twice as high as the rate reported for Altamont
Pass. Although the data set is limited, it indicates that, while several factors
likely influence raptor fatality rates, the level of raptor use may be one factor in
estimating raptor mortality. Measuring raptor use prior to construction provides
a tool for estimating impacts (fatalities) at proposed wind-energy facilities.
Raptor use is generally considered a reasonable estimate of raptor exposure or
risk (e.g., likelihood of mortality) when comparing wind-energy facilities and
when comparing different areas within a wind-energy facility.

Migratory Birds
Raptor migration surveys will be included in the post-construction monitoring
plan. In the event that migrant raptors are found as fatalities in the Project Area,
the spring raptor migration surveys will be continued for at least one additional
year in an effort to the determine the overall magnitude of impacts to migrating
raptors.

Breeding Birds
BP is developing a post construction monitoring study plan in cooperation with
the NYSDEC and USFWS. The draft study plan will be included in the FEIS and
will follow recommendations in the Draft Wind Power Guidelines. The
monitoring study will include ground surveys for bird and bat casualties;
migrant raptor surveys, grassland bird surveys, and AnaBat acoustic surveys.

Bats
To supplement the acoustic bat surveys completed prior to construction of the
facility, BP Wind Energy is developing a post construction monitoring study
plan in cooperation with the NYSDEC and USFWS. The draft study plan will be
included in the FEIS and will follow recommendations in the Draft Wind Power

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Guidelines. The study will include post-construction AnaBat acoustic surveys
conducted in conjunction with fatality monitoring to help determine the
relationship between use (defined as number of bat calls per detector night) and
mortality.

BP Wind Energy is seeking an Incidental Take Permit for Indiana Bats through
an Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation. The USACE is the lead
agency for the Section 7 consultation process with the US Fish and Wildlife
Service. As part of the consultation process, BP Wind Energy will develop
mitigation measures to offset any potential take of Indiana bats as a result of
construction or operation of the proposed Cape Vincent wind energy facility.
Final agreed-upon mitigation measures for Indiana bats will be included in the
FEIS.

Grassland Birds
Based on habitat availability and observations of target RTE species made during
pre-construction surveys, BP is preparing a State Incidental Take Permit
application under Article 11 (see Section 2.10). This application will include a
detailed impact assessment in addition to measures designed to avoid and
minimize impacts. For unavoidable impacts, mitigation resulting in a net
conservation benefit for the species will be developed. Mitigation may include
the development of habitat management plans and conservation easements. To
further understand the temporary and long-term impacts of the wind facility on
RTE birds, BP Wind Energy is developing a post construction monitoring study
plan in cooperation with the NYSDEC and USFWS. The draft study plan will be
included in the FEIS and will follow recommendations in the Federal Advisory
Committee Draft Wind Power Guidelines and the 2009 NYSDEC Guidelines.
The study will include fatality monitoring to help determine the relationship
between use and mortality as well as post-construction bird surveys as part of
the Before/After study design incorporated into the grassland breeding bird
study (see above).

2.13 VISUAL RESOURCES: ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING

The project area is characterized by agricultural fields, wetland marshes and


small forested wetlands. A large portion of the Study Area has historically been
cleared for agricultural use. Broad tracts of agricultural land include open crop
and pasture land, and inactive successional oldfield/scrubland. Patches of
mature second growth deciduous woodland typically cover steep slopes, ravines,
stream corridors, poorly drained soils and other areas historically unsuitable for
agriculture. Dominant tree species are representative of the beech-maple climax
community found throughout much of the Eastern Ontario Hills region. These
species include oak, beech, maple, ash, elm and hemlock. In addition to these
deciduous climax species, isolated plantings of red and white pine are scattered
throughout the study area. Coinciding with the mix of open field and woodlots
is a significant area of secondary growth edge habitat. For the most part, this
secondary growth takes the form of hedgerows, wood borders, and old fields.

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Within the Project Area, homes and agricultural support buildings are either
clustered at crossroad hamlets (varying in size), such as Rosiere and Saint
Lawrence, or are very sparsely located on individual properties. Residences (a
mix of old and new) and accessory structures (barns, garages, etc.) are often
found in roadside locations; however, many are located on isolated lots out of
view from local roads. Rural homes range in quality from well maintained
single-family frame construction to older housing stock in need of repair. Mobile
homes, of varying vintage, located on isolated lots and within parks is also a
common housing type. The more densely populated villages of Chaumont and
Cape Vincent lie nearby, but outside the Project Area.

The Study Area is within the Eastern Ontario Hills subdivision of the Erie
Ontario Lowland. The region is characterized by low-lying relief with shallow
hills comprised of glacial till typical of the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. The
landscape generally appears relatively flat or gently sloping with elevations
ranging upward from the St. Lawrence River (approximately 250 ft above sea
level [ASL]) to over 450 feet ASL.

Water features are an important and scenic component of the visual landscape.
The Study Area is bordered by Lake Ontario to the west and the St. Lawrence
River to the north. The Thousand Islands region is well known for the scenic
character of its shoreline and many islands of varying size throughout a 50-mile
stretch of the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Ogdensburg, NY.
Combined with a wide variety of active and passive recreational opportunities,
the aesthetic quality of the waterfront landscape is central to the Thousand
Island region’s appeal as a well-known and popular summer vacation
destination. The shore of Lake Ontario is irregular and is characterized by a
series of large bays, peninsulas and islands. The largest of these bays include
Chaumont Bay and Mud Bay. Numerous islands such as Fox Island, Grenadier
Island, Galloo Island, and Stony Island are clearly visible from the coastal area.

Within the Study Area, the St. Lawrence River is approximately eight miles wide
between the south shore along the New York State coastline and its northern
shore in Ontario, Canada. Numerous islands (such as Wolfe Island, Ontario and
Carleton Island, NY) intersect views making the river appear much narrower.
The 2,342-mile long St. Lawrence Seaway, the only commercial shipping route
between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, follows the St. Lawrence River
through the Thousand Islands. The locks of the Seaway accept vessels 740 feet
long, 78 feet wide and up to 116.5 feet in height above the waterline. The
Montreal to Lake Ontario segment of the seaway handled over 2,300 ship transits
and 23,000,000 tons of cargo during 2010.105 The navigational channel of the
Seaway within the study area follows the American side of the St. Lawrence
River south of Wolfe Island, Ontario and north of Carleton Island, NY, resulting
in a regular passage (average six per day) of cargo ships within sight of the Cape
Vincent waterfront.

105The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation website, http://www.greatlakes-


seaway.com/en/pdf/tonnage2010_en.pdf accessed on January 12, 2011

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A number of streams flow from inland towards the coastline. Kents Creek, Three
Mile Creek, Soper Creek, Fox Creek, Little Fox Creek, Shaver Creek and their
tributaries drain much of the agricultural lowlands westerly to Lake Ontario.
Scotch Brook and Wheeler Creek drain the northern portion of the study area
northerly to the St. Lawrence River. Numerous private farm ponds, scattered
wetlands, and small streams are also found in the Study Area.

The area attracts a considerable amount of tourism and numerous campgrounds,


cabins and motels are located along the coast. Important tourist resources in the
area include the Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, the Seaway Trail (route 12E through
the project area), three state parks and two state wildlife management areas
(Section 2.23 provides a description of these resource areas). The Village of Cape
Vincent’s historic district and the ferry from Cape Vincent to Canada also attract
tourists. All of the noted properties are located within five miles of the Project
boundaries. Approximately 5 miles of the 518-mile long Seaway Trail runs
through the Project Area (see Figure 2.13-1).

In addition to residential viewers and tourists, the area is dotted with properties
listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Section 2.30 identifies
listed properties both within the Project boundary and in the vicinity. Within the
Study Area, 41 structures and two historic districts listed on the State and
National Registers of Historic Places were identified.

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o
GIS File: Prepared by: Date: Project No.
Cape Vincent\GIS\projects\coastal_zone_boundary.mxd M. Jones/S. King 1/17/2011 0092352

CANADA

St Lawrence River


 
 
 
 
 
 
Cape Vincent
  Georg
  Lake
 

r
 

ve
   
   

Ri
 

t


on
 

um
     


a


Ch
   
   
 
  
 
 



  
  
 

 
Lake Ontario 
 Legend
 Proposed Turbine Array

Seaway Trail

Proposed Project Boundary


Chaumont Bay
Inland Extent of Coastal Management Boundary

1 0.5 0 1 Figure 2.13-1


Miles Seaway Trail & New York Coastal Zone Boundary
Cape Vincent Wind Project
BP Wind Energy
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2.14 VISUAL RESOURCES: IMPACTS

2.14.1 Visual Impacts Assessment Methodology

BP Wind Energy contracted Saratoga Associates to perform a viewshed analysis


for the Project Area. Saratoga Associates is a New York State registered
Landscape Architect experienced in the specialized discipline of visual and
aesthetic impact assessment.

Included as Appendix G, the Viewshed Analysis Report evaluates the potential


visibility of the proposed Project and objectively evaluates the difference
between the visual characteristics of the landscape setting with and without the
Project in place.

There are no specific Federal rules, regulations, or policies governing the


evaluation of visual resources. However, the methodology employed by
Saratoga Associates is based on standards and procedures used by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, 106 107 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land
Management,108 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
Administration,109 NYS Department of Transportation,110 and the NYS
Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC, July 31, 2000). In
particular, the process follows basic criteria set out in the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation Program Policy “Assessing and
Mitigating Visual Impacts” 111 (DEC Visual Policy). This process provides a
practical guide so decision makers and the public can understand the potential
visual impacts and make an informed judgment about their significance
(aesthetic impact).

This evaluation includes both quantitative (how much is seen and from what
locations; or ‘visual impact’) and qualitative (how it will be perceived; or
‘aesthetic impact’) aspects of visual assessment. The visual impact assessment
includes the following steps:

106 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Forest Service. 1974. Forest Service Landscape
Management: The Visual Management System, Handbook #462, Vol.2.
107 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Forest Service, 1995.

LandscapeAesthetics – A Handbook for Scenery Management. Agricultural Handbook No. 701.


Washington, D.C.
108 United States Department of the Interior (USDOI), Bureau of Land Management. 1980. Visual

Resource Management Program. U.S. Government Printing Office 1980 0-302-993. Washington,
D.C.
109 United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Highway Administration, 1981.

Visual Impact Assessment for Highway Projects. Office of Environmental Policy. Washington, D.C.
Microsoft Streets and Trips (11.00.18.1900), Microsoft Corporation, 1988-2003 NPS. 2003. National
Natural Landmarks. New York State. National Park Service website:
http://www.nature.nps.gov/nnl/Registry/USA_Map/States/NewYork/new_york.htm
110 New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). 1988. Engineering Instruction (EI) 88-

43 – Visual Assessment. NYSDOT. Albany, NY.


111 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), July 31, 2000, Program

Policy Assessing and Mitigating Visual Impacts, (DEP 00-2) NYSDEC, Albany, NY.

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1. Define the existing landscape character/visual setting to establish the
baseline visual condition from which visual change is evaluated;
2. Conduct a visibility analysis (viewshed mapping and field investigations) to
define the geographic area surrounding the proposed facility from which
portions of the Project might be seen;
3. Identify sensitive aesthetic resources to establish priority places from which
further analysis of potential visual impact is conducted;
4. Select key receptors from which detailed impact analysis is conducted;
5. Depict the appearance of the facility upon completion of construction;
6. Evaluate the aesthetic effects of the visual change (qualitative analysis)
resulting from Project construction, completion and operation; and,
7. Identify opportunities for effective mitigation.

2.14.2 Visual Impacts Study Area

Consistent with the DEC Visual Policy, the visual study area for this Visual
Resource Assessment (VRA) generally extends to a 5-mile radius from the
outermost turbines (hereafter referred to as the “five-mile radius study area”).
Beyond this distance it is assumed that natural conditions of atmospheric and
linear perspective will significantly mitigate most visual impacts. However,
considering the scale of the proposed Project and recognizing the proposed wind
turbines will, at times, be visible at distances greater than five miles, site-specific
consideration is given to resources of high cultural or scenic importance that are
located beyond the typical 5-mile radius.

The five-mile radius study area encompasses all of the Town and Village of Cape
Vincent as well as portions of the adjacent Towns of Lyme and Clayton. A
portion of the Village of Chaumont is also located within the five-mile radius
study area.

2.14.3 Visual Mapping

Also known as defining the zone of visual influence, viewshed mapping


identifies the geographic area within which there is a relatively high probability
that some portion of the proposed Project would be visible. To calculate the
maximum range of potential turbine visibility, one control point was established
at the turbine high point (i.e., apex of blade rotation) for each of the 84 turbines
evaluated. The resulting composite viewshed identifies the geographic area
within the 5-mile study area where some portion of the proposed wind energy
project (the apex of one or more turbine blades) is theoretically visible.

A viewshed map was prepared defining the area within which there would be
no visibility of the Project because of the screening effect caused by intervening
topography, and illustrating the probable screening effect of existing mature
vegetation. This vegetated condition viewshed, although not considered
absolutely definitive, acceptably identifies the geographic area within which one

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would expect to be substantially screened by intervening forest vegetation (See
Figure 2.14-1).

Identified viewshed areas were further quantified in order to illustrate the


number of turbines that may be visible from any given area. By themselves, the
viewshed maps do not determine how much of each turbine is visible above
intervening landform or vegetation (e.g., 100%, 50%, 10% etc. of total turbine
height), but rather the geographic area within which there is a relatively high
probability (theoretical visibility) that some portion of one or more turbines
would be visible. Their primary purpose is to assist in determining the potential
visibility of the proposed Project from a set of pre-identified visual resources.

Another viewshed map (See Figure 2.14-2) was created to assist in evaluating
potential nighttime visibility. The viewshed map was created using the same
methodology as described above; however, the map was created using the
approximate height (275 feet) of the strobe lights as the control point for a set of
45 turbines to be illuminated per the FAA illumination plan (see 2.14.5).

The visual mapping may be further refined based the distance that turbines will
be from the observer. Distance affects the apparent size and degree of contrast
between an object and its surroundings.

Distance can be discussed in terms of distance zones, e.g., foreground,


middleground and background. The U.S. Forest Service established distance
zones which have been incorporated into the NYSDEC Visual Policy:

Foreground (0-½ mile) – At a foreground distance, viewers typically have a very


high recognition of detail. Cognitively, in the foreground zone, human scale is
an important factor in judging spatial relationships and the relative size of
objects. From this distance, the sense of form, line, color and textural contrast
with the surrounding landscape is highest. The visual impact is likely to be
considered the greatest at a foreground distance.

Middleground (½ mile to 3 miles) – This is the distance where elements begin to


visually merge or join. Colors and textures become somewhat muted by
distance, but are still identifiable. Visual detail is reduced, although distinct
patterns may still be evident. Viewers from middleground distances
characteristically recognize surface features such as tree stands, building clusters
and small landforms. Scale is perceived in terms of identifiable features of
development patterns. From this distance, the contrast of color and texture are
identified more in terms of the regional context than by the immediate
surroundings.

Background (3-5 miles to horizon) – At this distance, landscape elements lose


detail and become less distinct. Atmospheric perspective changes colors to blue-
grays, while surface characteristics are lost. Visual emphasis is on the outline or
edge of one landmass or water resource against another with a strong skyline
element.

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2.14.4 Overall Visual Impacts

Table 2.14-1 indicates the degree of theoretical visibility illustrated on the


viewshed maps within the 5-mile radius study area. Table 2.14-1 and Figure
2.14-1 indicate that one or more of the proposed turbines will be theoretically
visible from approximately 78 percent of the five-mile radius study area.
Approximately 22 percent of the study area will likely have no visibility of any
wind turbines due to intervening landform or vegetation. Generally, turbine
visibility is most common from inland agricultural areas where cleared lands
provide long vistas in the direction of turbine groupings. Project visibility will
also occur from unscreened coastal areas, Lake and River Islands, and from on-
water vantage points throughout the five-mile radius study area.

TABLE 2.14-1: Viewshed Coverage Summary

Vegetation and Topography Viewshed


Acres Percent Cover
No Turbines Visible 28,292 22.3%
1 – 5 Turbine Visible 4,300 3.4%
6 – 10 Turbines Visible 2,800 2.2%
11 – 15 Turbines Visible 2,972 2.3%
16 – 20 Turbines Visible 2,762 2.2%
21 – 30 Turbines Visible 4,713 3.7%
31 – 50 Turbines Visible 9,469 7.5%
51 – 70 Turbines Visible 13,821 10.9%
71 – 84 Turbines Visible 57,952 45.6%
Total 127,081 100.0%

The areas most directly affected by views of the Project will be:
• the central portion of the turbine area, where multiple turbines will be
visible up to 360-degrees around a vantage point;
• south and east of the Village of Cape Vincent; and
• in the general vicinity of Three Mile Bay.

Viewers to the north of the Project site, along such roads as Favret Road, Mason
Road, and Hell Street will encounter views of a large number of turbines (71 or
more) at foreground and middleground distances (e.g., ½ to 3 miles). At
middleground distances, the visual contrast of the turbines with the surrounding
landforms will be greatest.

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Figure 2.14-1

St. Lawrence
Village Of Cape Vincent R i v e r5
Mile
s Cape Vincent Wind Energy
"
83 Project
"
84

"
78 "
77
"
81
4M
iles Figure 2
"
"68 Poin
" " Vegetated Viewshed*
" t
St 80 82
St
Maximum Turbine Layout 85 WTGs
"
69

Mu rr
ve llo
Gou
"
76

a
75 (Layout 10/28/2010)

yS

Le
3M

t
ay iles
adw
Bro
December 2010
"70

Ess
*Assumes uniform tree height of 40' (12.192 m) in forested areas.

e
lty n
"
2 M il
St es

eS
72 e ph

" Jos

t
Key
71
"
74
"
67 ey
L n
"
73 St
No. of Turbines Visible
"
Re a

Ke ls Lak
e
63
Stl

n
1 Mile
hL
Vin c

ort
1-5
"
sw

"
Ain
e nt

66 61
Ka n
St

6 - 10
dya

"
St

t Ln 64
Ke n
11 - 15
"
65
80
85

16 - 20
87
81 86
0 500 1,000 2,000
82
21 - 30
Feet 83

73
76
77
84
31 - 50
78
Village Of 70
74 51 - 70
Cape Vincent 75

71 72 71 - 84
46
68 "
1
1
Receptor
28 38
40 41
47 48
69 !
32 Proposed Turbine Locations
43
25
26
39 42 44
45
65
Seaway Trail (Scenic Highway)
20 21
27
32 33
36
37 62
66
67 Snowmobile Trail
18
22 23
29 34
35
59
60
63
Municipal Boundary
30
61
Fuller Bay 19
24
31
49
55
56 River / Stream / Creek
57
50
51
State Park
52 58
53
Waterway Access
Wilson Bay
54
Wildlife Management Area
4
7
A

5
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6 16 17 PROJECT # 2007 - 083.50M
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1 12 Copyright © 2010 Saratoga Associates. All Rights Reserved.


13
AM

Mud Bay 2A 14
8 This map is computer generated using data acquired by Saratoga Associates
9
DA

from various sources and is intended only for reference, conceptual planning
Chaumont
OF

10
and presentation purposes. This map is not intended for and should not be
NA

11
Duck Bay used to establish boundaries, property lines, location of objects or to provide
ES

Three Mile
CA

any other information typically needed for construction or any other purpose

y
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AT

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Figure 2.14-2

St. Lawrence
Village Of Cape Vincent R i v e r5
Mile
s Cape Vincent Wind Energy
"
83 Project
"
84
" "
77 4M
Figure 3
"
78 iles
81
"
68 Poin
t "
80 "
82 Vegetated Viewshed
"
St
St
69 FAA Lighting Layout 45 WTGs
"

Mu rr
ve llo
Gou
"
76

a
75 (Layout 10/28/2010)

yS

Le
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ay iles
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December 2010
"70

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e
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"
2 M il
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Key

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72 e ph
" Jos

t
71
"
74
No. of FAA Lights Visible
"
67 yL
n
"
73 St
"
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1 Mile
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n
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e nt

66 61
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Ka n
St

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"
St

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11 - 15
"
65 85
80
87 16 - 20
86
0 500 1,000 2,000
Feet
21 - 30
76 84
73 31 - 45
78
Village Of
Cape Vincent
70
75 !
32 Proposed Lit Turbine Locations
72
"
1 Receptor
68 4
46 Seaway Trail (Scenic Highway)
40
47 69

25
28 38 43
Snowmobile Trail
65
27
67
Municipal Boundary
20 21 37
29
63 River / Stream / Creek
Fuller Bay 19
24
31
49
61
State Park
51 58
Waterway Access
Wilson Bay 54
Wildlife Management Area
4
PROJECT # 2007 - 083.50M
A

Copyright © 2010 Saratoga Associates. All Rights Reserved.


IC

15
6 17
ER

1
AM

Mud Bay 2A 14
8 This map is computer generated using data acquired by Saratoga Associates
DA

from various sources and is intended only for reference, conceptual planning
Chaumont
OF

and presentation purposes. This map is not intended for and should not be
NA

11
Duck Bay used to establish boundaries, property lines, location of objects or to provide
ES

Three Mile
CA

any other information typically needed for construction or any other purpose

y
Ba
Bay
AT

when engineered plans or land surveys are required.

ll
i
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File Location: B:\2007\07083\Maps\Viewshed_Veg101130_FAA.mxd

Sa
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IT E
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Ontario Chaumont Bay

0 1.25 2.5 5
Miles ¯
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Similar views of the Project will be available from along many of the county and
local roadways. Roadways with views of multiple turbines, include, but may not
be limited to, NYS Route 12E, Huff, Burnt Rock, Swamp, Merchant, Stoney Point,
Deer Lick, McKeever, Branche, Hell, CR 4, and Ashland Roads. This high degree
of Project visibility is the result of broad agricultural clearing and the lack of
screening hills. It is worth noting that some of these views may also be long
distance (background view) and fleeting as viewers pass in vehicles.

While the viewshed map indicates theoretical visibility of multiple turbines


within the Villages of Cape Vincent and Chaumont, and the hamlet of Three Mile
Bay, field observation determined that the prevalence of mature street trees and
site landscaping combined with one- and two-story residential and commercial
structures (not included in the vegetation screening analysis) will commonly
block views in the direction of the Project from downtown and waterfront areas.
Filtered or framed views of proposed turbines are likely through foreground
vegetation and buildings from the perimeter of these communities. Direct views
are more prevalent on the outskirts of the villages and hamlet where localized
residential and commercial structures, street trees and site landscaping are less
likely to provide a visual barrier.

Similarly, viewshed mapping indicates a high degree of Project visibility from


many shoreline areas throughout the study area. Based on field observation,
such visibility would likely be limited to some degree by existing clusters of
localized (non-forest) vegetation that is not clearly distinguishable in the multi-
spectral satellite imagery of the National Land Cover Data (NLCD) dataset.
Nonetheless, views of some portion of numerous turbines will occur from
shoreline areas along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Direct views of
multiple turbines will also occur from near shore and offshore vantage points on
the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Views are also found on Lake and
River islands from shoreline areas oriented toward the Project, as well as island
hillsides with down slope vistas in the direction of the Project. Water and island
views are found on both sides of the international border within the five-mile
study area.

2.14.5 Turbines and Lighting

The proposed wind turbines will each be up to 427 feet high, measured from the
ground to the tip of an extended turbine blade. The FAA allows a maximum gap
between lit and unlit turbines of ½ mile (2,640 feet). Based on these guidelines
and the evaluated 84-turbine layout, 45 of the proposed turbines may be
illuminated at night for aviation safety. The proposed lighting plan is limited to
the minimum lit turbines required by the FAA to minimize visual impacts from
the ground.

One aviation obstruction light will be affixed to the rear portion of the nacelle on
each turbine to be illuminated. These lights will be approximately 275 feet above
ground level. The lighting units used may be L-864 red flashing lights, in the

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form of incandescent or rapid discharge (strobe). All light fixtures within the
Project must flash in unison, thus delineating the Project as one large obstruction
to pilots. Two L-864 red flashing aviation obstruction lights are designed to emit
light in an upward direction with maximum visibility for pilots and minimum
visibility from the ground. The lighting units are low intensity, emitting 2,000
candelas. For comparison purposes, a 50-watt incandescent light bulb used for
indoor track lighting emits 510 candelas and vehicular daytime running lamps
produce up to 7,000 candelas.

As illustrated in Table 2.14-2 and Figure 2.14.2 , the viewshed map indicates that
one or more of the FAA required light sources would be theoretically visible
from approximately 74 percent of the five-mile radius study area.
Approximately 26 percent of the study area will likely have no visibility of any
proposed light sources. Visibility will be most evident in the cleared agricultural
lands from cleared lands with open vistas in the direction of the proposed
Project, participating Project properties with lit turbines, along many of the same
roadways with high turbine visibility (e.g. NYS Route 12E, and Huff, Burnt Rock,
Swamp and Merchant Roads), along unscreened coastal areas, Lake and River
Islands, and from on-water vantage points throughout the five-mile radius study
area.

TABLE 2.14-2: Nighttime Viewshed Coverage Summary

Vegetation and Topography


Viewshed
(See Figure 2.14-2)
Acres Percent Cover
No Turbine Lights
32,925 25.9%
Visible
1 – 5 Turbine Lights 8,628 6.8%
6 – 10 Turbine Lights 6,799 5.4%
11 – 15 Turbine Lights 6,686 5.3%
16 – 20 Turbine Lights 7,051 5.5%
21 – 30 Turbine Lights 14,765 11.6%
31 – 45 Turbine Lights 50,227 39.5%
Total 127,081 100.0%

2.14.6 Classification of Visual Impacts

Construction Phase Impacts


Construction of the proposed wind turbines will require use of large mobile
cranes and other large construction vehicles. Turbine components will be
delivered in sections via large semi-trucks. The construction period for each
turbine is expected to be quite short. As such, construction related visual impacts
will be brief and are not expected to result in adverse prolonged visual impact to
area residents or visitors.

The primary long-term construction-related impact will be due to clearings


through existing wooded areas in order to accommodate 40-foot wide

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construction access rights-of-way. While the Project has been designed to
minimize the need for such clearings, there are places where it will be
unavoidable, and some changes in the treelines throughout the area will be
observable for the foreseeable future, both because it will take time for trees to re-
grow in the 24-foot wide temporary ROW cleared for construction, and because a
16-foot wide permanent ROW will be maintained cleared along these access
roads for the duration of the Project.

Operations Phase Impacts


The proposed substation and operations and maintenance building will be
located in the Town of Cape Vincent. Although both are relatively minor
components of the Project, it is anticipated that they will be visible by local
residents or passers-by. The substation will occupy approximately 3 acres, while
the operations and maintenance facility will occupy approximately 5 acres
including a maintenance building with offices, an equipment yard, and a parking
lot. As noted above, clearances will be maintained throughout the Project Area
for the 16-foot wide permanent access roads.

In addition, the Project will be stringing multiple 115 kV lines along a set of
transmission line towers which will be constructed by the St. Lawrence Wind
Project. This set of towers has already been incorporated into the SEQRA
analysis for the St. Lawrence Project, and the addition of the Cape Vincent lines
will represent a minimal change in the visual impact from the transmission line
corridor. For this reason, visual impacts from the transmission line were not
included in the viewshed analysis.

Turbines therefore represent the major visual impact to the local viewshed.
Operational phase impacts will be evaluated primarily in respect to the impacts
the 84 wind turbine generators will have to the viewshed in Cape Vincent and
surrounding towns.

The visual character of a landscape is defined by the patterns, forms and scale
relationships created by lines, colors, and textures. Some patterns dominate
while others are subordinate. The qualitative impact of a Project is the effect the
development has on these patterns, and by corollary, on the visual character of
the regional landscape.

The visible patterns (form, line, color, and texture) found within the Project
region can best be described as representative of the agricultural landscape
typical of the region. Given the rural nature of the study area, visible colors are
natural, muted shades of green, brown, gray, and other earth tones. When
viewed from a distance, the landscape maintains a rather uniform and unbroken
blending of colors, which tend to fade with hazing of varying atmospheric
conditions.

The following describes the compatibility of the proposed Project with regional
landscape patterns within which it is contained and viewed. This evaluation is
graphically depicted in the photographic simulations provided in Appendix G.

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Form - The form of the regional landscape is essentially a planar landscape. The
woodland edge of agricultural fields commonly creates a brief vertical offset of
the prevailing planar form. The proposed Project will be comprised of
approximately 84 thin tapered vertical structures distributed throughout the
landscape; topped with large rotating blades. The introduction of such clearly
man-made and kinetic structures creates an obvious visual disruption of the
agricultural landscape.

Line - The existing landscape maintains a horizontal line formed by extended


vistas over an agricultural plain that often forms the visible horizon. The well-
defined vertical form of the approximately 140 (86 for the purpose of this VRA)
turbines visible across this plain introduces a contrasting and distinct
perpendicular element into the landscape. Views will commonly include
multiple turbines at varying distances from the viewer. In addition, due to
topography, land boundaries, and sensitive ecological features, configuration of
turbines across the landscape at Cape Vincent will not be in a grid pattern,
creating the appearance of a rather random arrangement.

Color - The neutral off-white color of the proposed turbine tower, nacelle and
blades will be most often viewed against the background sky. Under these
conditions, the turbines would be highly compatible with the hue, saturation and
brightness of the background sky and distant elements of the natural landscape.
Color contrast will decrease with increasing distance and/or periods of increased
atmospheric haze or precipitation.

Texture - Tubular style monopole towers have been specifically selected, instead
of skeletal (or lattice) frame towers, to minimize textural contrast and provide a
more simple, visually appealing form.

Scale/Spatial Dominance - The proposed wind turbines will be the tallest visible
elements on the horizon and will be disproportionate to other elements
commonly visible on the regional landscape. From most foreground and
middleground vantage points, the contrast of the proposed turbines with
commonly recognizable features, such as structures and trees, will result in the
proposed Project being perceived as a highly dominant visual element.

2.14.7 Shadow Flicker Impacts

Wind turbines can cause a flickering effect when shadows created by rotating
turbine blades move across the ground and nearby structures. This can cause a
disturbance when the repeating pattern of light intensity change crosses the
windows of buildings. The effect, known as shadow-flicker, is most conspicuous
when windows face a rotating wind turbine and when the sun is low in the sky
(e.g. shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset).

Evidence from operational turbines suggests that the intensity of shadow-flicker


is only an issue at short distances. Shadow-flicker will have a minimal to

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unperceivable affect on properties at a distance greater than ten turbine rotor
diameters from the turbine.112 Shadow flicker will only occur during certain
conditions:
• Daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) – shadow-flicker does not occur at night;
• Sunshine – shadow-flicker will not occur on foggy or overcast days when
daylight is not sufficiently bright to cast shadows;
• Receptor is within ten rotor diameters of the turbine – beyond this distance a
person should not perceive a wind turbine to be chopping through sunlight,
but rather as an object with the sun behind it;
• Windows face the turbine – turbine shadows can enter a structure through
unshaded windows; and
• Turbine is rotating – no flicker will occur when the turbine is not in
operation.

Because of constantly changing solar aspect and azimuth, shadows will be cast
on specific days of the year and may pass a stationary receptor relatively quickly.
Shadow-flicker will not be an everyday event, and will not be of extended
duration when it does occur.

Additionally, shadow-flicker is most likely to occur during early morning or late


afternoon hours; thus, specific buildings may experience shadow-flicker, but the
occupants may either be inactive or absent. For example, for residential
dwellings located to the west of a turbine, the shadow zone will occur shortly
after sunrise when affected residents are typically asleep with shades drawn.
Receptors located to the east of a turbine are more likely to fall within the
shadow zone shortly before sunset, when schools or office buildings are likely to
be unoccupied.

When the rotor plane is in-line with the sun and receptor, the cast shadows will
be very narrow (Image 1, Figure 2-14), of low intensity, and will move quickly
past the stationary receptor. When the rotor plane is perpendicular to the sun
and receptor “view line,” the cast shadow of the blades will move within a larger
elliptical area (Image 2).

112Planning for Renewable Energy - A Companion Guide to PPS22 Queen’s Printer and Controller
of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office 2004.

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Image 1 - in plane with sun Image 2 – perpendicular to sun

The distance between a wind turbine and a receptor further affects the intensity
of the shadows cast by the blades, and therefore the intensity of flickering.
Shadows cast close to a turbine will be more intense, distinct and “focused.”
This is because a greater proportion of the sun’s disc is intermittently blocked.
Similarly, flickering is more intense if created by the area of a blade closer to the
rotor and further from the tip. Beyond ten turbine diameters, the intensity of the
blade shadow is considered negligible and at such a distance there will be
virtually no, or limited, distinct chopping of the sunlight.

The Project’s shadow-flicker analysis was conducted using WindPRO 2.6 Basis
software (WindPro) and associated shadow module. This is a widely accepted
modeling software package developed specifically for the design and evaluation
of wind power projects. Variables used for shadow calculations include:
• Terrain;
• Latitude and Longitude;
• Turbine Dimensions and Blade Rotation Speed (assumed a three-bladed
wind turbine rotating at 14.9 revolutions per minute);
• Receptor Locations – Locations of residences in the Project Area (shadow
analysis was conducted for all residences located within 1,000 meters of any
proposed turbine, or ten times the rotor diameter of the turbine;
• Receptor Windows – for this analysis, it was conservatively assumed that
every receptor had windows in all directions, referred to as the “Green
house” mode; and
• Sunshine probabilities (percentage of time from sunrise to sunset with
sunshine – based on historical meteorological data for the Syracuse Hancock
International Airport, approximately 86 miles south of the Project site.

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
33% 39% 47% 49% 55% 59% 63% 59% 54% 44% 27% 25%

• Screening from Vegetation and Structures (vegetation overlay on WindPro


output). It was assumed that shadows will not occur in areas where turbines
are not visible due to the screening effects of vegetation
• Operational Time/Rotor Orientation (considering typical wind direction).

N NNE NE ENE E ESE SE SSE S SSW SW WSW W WNW NW NNW


306 593 747 410 239 188 224 352 679 810 1,019 1,034 836 697 367 259

• Hours per year by wind direction, based on meteorological data collected by


BP Wind Energy from March 2006 to February 2008.

WindPro was used to calculate the theoretical number of hours per year the
shadow of a rotor would fall at any given location within the 1,000-meter radius
of each individual turbine in the Project. Figures contained in Appendix G
illustrate the predicted geographic area of the shadow impact.

Shadow-Flicker Impact on Existing Structures


There are 754 existing structures located within a 1,000-meter radius of at least
one proposed turbine within the Project. These structures were identified
through a combination of air-photo interpretation and field verification. Each
existing structure was evaluated to determine potential shadow impact. The
locations of inventoried structures and number of hours per year each
inventoried structure would theoretically fall within the shadow zone of one or
more proposed turbines are included in Appendix G.

A summary of their annual shadow hours for residential structures is provided


below:
• 225 (29.8%) do not fall within the shadow zone;
• 8 (1.1%) will theoretically be impacted less than 2 hrs/yr;
• 259 (34.4%) will theoretically be impacted 2-10 hrs/yr;
• 147 (19.5%) will theoretically be impacted 10-20 hrs/yr;
• 59 (7.8%) will theoretically be impacted 20-30 hrs/yr;
• 30 (4.0%) will theoretically be impacted 30-40 hrs/yr; and
• 26 (3.4%) will theoretically be impacted greater than 40 hrs/yr.

As identified, there are 56 structures that are predicted to have over 30 hours per
year of shadows.

Of these 56 structures, none will likely be screened from the turbine shadow by
intervening vegetation. It appears that 47 are residences owned by Project

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participants. Nine are owned by non-participating landowners, and it is possible
that five of these are ancillary structures (e.g., barns or outbuildings) or vacant.

2.14.8 Regional Visual Impacts

As described in Section 2.13, the Thousand Islands region of New York State is
highly valued for aesthetic values which contribute to its appeal as a well-known
and popular vacation destination.

The scenic value of waterfront property has resulted in a nearly continuous


pattern of residential development along the shoreline. Built structures include
traditional single-family residences, cottages, camps and mobile homes; nearly
all oriented to take best advantage of water views. Shoreline areas between the
water’s edge and residential structures are commonly cleared, partly or often
completely, to create unencumbered vistas of the water. Scenic views from
waterfront homes, camps and cottages, parks and recreational facilities along the
shoreline are focused primarily on the picturesque views of the St. Lawrence
River, Lake Ontario and Islands. From affected shoreline vantage points,
multiple turbines will be visible above intervening landform and vegetation
inland from the shoreline, directly away from the scenic coastal viewshed.

Within the turbine area, typical views are characterized by a patchwork of


working farms, old fields and successional woodlots over a relatively flat or
gently sloping landscape. Building stock consists primarily of low-density
permanent homes and manufactured housing, along with accessory structures
(barns, garages, sheds, etc.). The introduction of large, clearly man-made
structures creates an obvious disruption of the planar agricultural landscape.
The well-defined vertical form of turbines on the horizon introduces a
contrasting and distinct perpendicular element into the landscape. The proposed
turbines will be the tallest visible elements within view and will be
disproportionate to other elements on the regional landscape. The distribution of
turbines across an extended area will result in the proposed Project being
perceived as a highly dominant visual element. The moderately paced sweeping
rotation of the turbine blades will heighten the conspicuity of the turbines no
matter the degree of visibility.

The Towns of Cape Vincent, Lyme, and Clayton are quite rural with a very small
year-round population. The year-round population of the Town of Cape Vincent
is less than 4,000, with a population density of less than 60 persons per square
mile. However, it is estimated that the population of the Town doubles to more
than 8,000 during the summer season. This compares with a population density
of 88 persons per square mile for Jefferson County and 402 persons per square
mile for New York State, as a whole. Highways within the study area are
relatively lightly traveled. NYS Route 12E has an average annual daily traffic
(AADT) volume of less than 1,400 vehicles at the Village of Cape Vincent. While
the proposed Project will be frequently visible to local residents and travelers, the
total number of potentially affected permanent year-round viewers within the
study area is relatively small when compared to other regions of New York State.

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Seasonal visitors come to the area specifically to enjoy the historic, recreational,
and scenic resources of the lake, river and islands. The sensitivity of these
individuals to visual quality is variable; but to many, visual quality is an
important and integral part of their outdoor experience. The presence of wind
turbines may diminish the aesthetic experience for those that believe that the
rural landscape should be preserved for agricultural, rural residential, open
space and similar uses. Such viewers will likely have high sensitivity to the
visual quality and landscape character, regardless of the frequency of duration of
their exposure to the proposed Project. For others, the presence of the Project
may have little aesthetic impact on their recreational experience, or may be
regarded as a positive visual impact.

While visitors will certainly enjoy the outstanding scenic quality of the
waterfront, visitors and recreational users will also be cognizant of existing
roadside and shoreline residential and commercial uses of varying aesthetic
quality, as well as utility infrastructure. Turbines will be located in close
proximity to the Lake Ontario coastline. Although this area may not contain a
high number of visual receptors those visitors driving along coastline roads may
experience foreground views of the turbines with Lake Ontario in the
background.

While the red flashing aviation obstruction lighting on communications towers


will be commonly visible nighttime elements almost everywhere through the
region (as they are throughout most of the nation), the concentration of lights
within the turbine area would be somewhat unique. The night lighting of the
Project will be similar in character to lighting at the nearby Wolf Island wind
project visible across the St. Lawrence River from the Village of Cape Vincent.
The dark sky of the rural Jefferson County is highly valued. While aviation
obstruction lighting is generally directed upward, relatively low intensity and
will not create atmospheric illumination (sky glow), approximately 45 red lights
flashing in unison at close range or in the distance from any given location will
be conspicuous and somewhat discordant with the current dark nighttime
conditions. Local residents quietly enjoying the rural nighttime setting will likely
be more affected by this condition than would motorists traveling thorough the
area after dark. These are federally mandated safety features and cannot be
omitted or reduced, though approved alternative lighting options will be
evaluated to minimize the visual impact from the ground.

The viewshed map clearly indicates that one or more of the 45 proposed lights
will be theoretically visible from approximately 74 percent of the five-mile study
area. The magnitude of this impact will depend on how many lighted turbines
are visible at a specific location and existing ambient lighting conditions present
within the view. Daytime lighting of the turbines is not required.

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2.14.9 Visual Impacts to Specific Resources

Because it is not practical to evaluate every conceivable location where the


proposed Project might be visible, it is accepted visual assessment practice to
limit detailed evaluation of aesthetic impact to locations generally considered by
society, through regulatory designation or policy, to be of cultural and/or
aesthetic importance. These may include places of local sensitivity or high
intensity of use.

Resources of statewide significance, resources of local interest and other places


for analysis were identified though a review of published maps and other paper
documents, online research, and windshield survey of publicly accessible
locations.

Resources of Statewide Significance – The DEC Visual Policy requires that all
aesthetic resources of statewide significance be identified along with any
potential adverse effects on those resources resulting from the proposed Project.
Aesthetic resources of statewide significance may be derived from one or more of
the following categories:
• A property on or eligible for inclusion in the National or State Registers of
Historic Places [16 U.S.C. § 470a et seq., Parks, Recreation, and Historic
Preservation Law Section 14.07];
• State Parks [Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law Section 3.09];
• National Wildlife Refuges [16 U.S.C. 668dd], State Game Refuges, and State
Wildlife Management Areas [ECL 11-2105];
• National Natural Landmarks [36 CFR Part 62];
• The National Park System, Recreation Areas, Seashores, and Forests [16
U.S.C. 1c];
• Rivers designated as National or State Wild, Scenic, or Recreational [16 U.S.C.
Chapter 28, ECL 15-2701 et seq.];
• A site, area, lake, reservoir, or highway designated or eligible for designation
as scenic [ECL Article 49 or NYDOT equivalent and Adirondack Park
Agency], designated State Highway Roadside;
• Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance [of Article 42 of Executive Law];
• A State or federally designated trail, or one proposed for designation [16
U.S.C. Chapter 2 or equivalent];
• State Nature and Historic Preserve Areas [Section 4 of Article XIV of the State
Constitution];
• Urban Cultural Parks [Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law
Section 35.15];
• Adirondack Park Scenic Vistas [Adirondack Park Land Use and
Development Map];
• The State Forest Preserve [NYS Constitution Article XIV], Adirondack and
Catskill Parks;

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• Palisades Park [Palisades Interstate Park Commission]; and
• Bond Act Properties purchased under Exceptional Scenic Beauty or Open
Space category.

There were 59 resources of Statewide Significance identified in the 5-mile buffer


around the Project, including 41 historical structures and 2 historical districts.
Visual impacts to those historical properties are included in Section 2.30.

Other resources of Statewide Significance include:

New York State Parks


a) Burnham Point State Park (Town of Cape Vincent) – Located on the St.
Lawrence River
b) Cedar Point State Park (Town of Cape Vincent) – Located on the St.
Lawrence River,
c) Long Point State Park (Town of Lyme) – Located on Point Peninsula
overlooking Chaumont Bay

NYS DEC Wildlife Management Areas


a) Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area (Towns of Cape Vincent and
Lyme)
b) French Creek Wildlife Management Area (Town of Clayton)
c) Point Peninsula Wildlife Management Area (Town of Lyme)

NYS DEC Cape Vincent Fisheries Aquarium


The Aquarium, in a restored gristmill, is a major tourist destination featuring the
underwater life of the Thousand Islands region.

Seaway Trail
The New York State Seaway Trail is a 454-mile scenic route paralleling Lake Erie,
the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and has been
selected as one of “America’s Byways” by the U.S. Department of
Transportation. Through the study area, the Seaway Trail follows NYS Route
12E from Clayton southeast to Sacketts Harbor.

NYS DEC Maintained Boat Launches


Three within the Town of Lyme, and one within the Town of Cape Vincent

Carlton Island – Light House


The Tibbets Point Light House is also of Statewide Significance, but is included
on the National Register of Historic Places, and is addressed in Section 2.30.

Resources of Local Interest – Places of local sensitivity or high intensity of use


(based on local context) were also inventoried, even though they may not meet
the broader statewide threshold. Aesthetic resources of local interest were
generally derived from the following general categories:

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• Recreation areas including playgrounds, athletic fields, boat launches, fishing
access, campgrounds, picnic areas, ski centers, and other recreational
facilities/attractions;
• Areas devoted to the conservation or the preservation of natural
environmental features (e.g., reforestation areas/forest preserves, wildlife
management areas, open space preserves);
• A bicycling, hiking, ski touring, or snowmobiling trail designated as such by
a governmental agency;
• Architectural structures and sites of traditional importance as designated by
a governmental agency;
• Parkways, highways, or scenic overlooks and vistas designated as such by a
governmental agency;
• Important urban landscape including visual corridors, monuments,
sculptures, landscape plantings, and urban green space;
• Important architectural elements and structures representing community
style and neighborhood character;
• An interstate highway or other high volume (relative to local conditions)
road of regional importance; and
• A residential area greater than 50 contiguous acres and with a density of
more than one dwelling unit per acre.

Twenty five resources of local interest were identified within the 5-mile radius
around the Project, including:

Cultural Resources
a) Dabion Memorial (Town of Cape Vincent)
b) St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery (Town of Cape Vincent)
c) Riverside Cemetery (Town of Cape Vincent)

Recreational and Tourist Resources


a) Millens Bay Marina (Town of Cape Vincent)
b) Lucky Star Lake (Town of Clayton)
c) The Nature Conservancy Alvar Limestone Barrens Preserve (Town of
Lyme)
d) Bay Breeze Golf Course (Town of Lyme)
e) Mud Bay – Martin’s Marina (Town of Cape Vincent)
f) North Market Street, Swimming Area (Town of Cape Vincent)
g) Cape Vincent Village Green (Town of Cape Vincent)
h) Ferry to Wolfe Island – Marina (Town of Cape Vincent)
i) Cape Vincent Historical Museum (Town of Cape Vincent)
j) Village Waterfront Park (Town of Cape Vincent)

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k) Village of Cape Vincent Public Boat Launch (Town of Cape Vincent)

Residential/Community Resources
a) Hamlet of Rosiere (Town of Cape Vincent)
b) Hamlet of Millens Bay (Town of Cape Vincent)
c) Thousand Island MS and HS (Town of Cape Vincent)
d) Hamlet of Bedford Corners (Town of Cape Vincent)
e) Herrick Grove Residential Area (Town of Lyme)
f) Three Mile Point Bay Residential Area (Town of Lyme)
g) Hamlet of Three Mile Bay (Town of Lyme)
h) Cape Vincent Town Hall (Town of Cape Vincent)
i) Cape Vincent Elementary School and Park (Village of Cape Vincent)
j) Cape Vincent Village Hall (Village of Cape Vincent)
k) Residential – North of Site (Town of Cape Vincent)

Other Places for Analysis – Given the rural character of much of the study area,
the inventory of aesthetic resources has been further expanded to be
conservatively over-inclusive. In several cases, locations not rising to the
threshold of statewide significance or local interest have been included to
represent visibility along sparsely populated rural roadways; most selected
based on field observation of open vistas. Although possibly of interest to local
residents, such locations are not considered representative of any aesthetically
significant place and carry little importance in the evaluation of aesthetic impact.

Ten local roadway intersections, as well as the Cape Vincent State Correctional
Facility, were included as other places for analysis.

Methodology
Each inventoried visual resource was evaluated to determine whether a visual
impact might exist. This consisted of reviewing viewshed maps and field
observation to determine whether or not individual resources would have a view
of the proposed Project.

To demonstrate how the actual turbines will appear within the study area from a
variety of distances and locations, six locations previously simulated were
updated using the revised layout and turbine selection. The specific simulations
chosen to be simulated as part of the VRA were selected for their relevance to the
factors affecting visual impact (viewer/user groups, landscape units, distance
zones and duration/frequency and circumstances of view) discussed above.
These simulations are included in Appendix G, and support the assessment of
operational phase impacts described in 2.14.6.

The photo simulations illustrate that, when visible, a substantial portion of


individual turbines will be seen above intervening landform and vegetation. In
particular, from foreground vantage points (within ½ mile), most of the turbine

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tower, nacelle and turbine rotor will commonly be visible above intervening
vegetation. From middleground (1/2 to 3 miles) and background (3+ miles)
vantage points, such as the Villages of Cape Vincent and Chaumont, and the
hamlet of Three Mile Bay, foreground vegetation, and in some instances
topography, will often screen the lower portions of the turbine structure (tower
and nacelle) limiting views to the upper portion of the rotor turning above the
tree line.

The high degree of Project visibility can be attributed to the lack of significant
topographic changes (e.g. hills, mountains) and broad agricultural clearings.
This is typical throughout much of the five-mile study area.

Potentially affected resources of Statewide Significance, which are open to the


public, include resources such as:
• St. Vincent of Paul Catholic Church (place of worship);
• Tibbett’s Point Lighthouse (tourist attraction);
• Ashland Flats Wildlife Management Area (public open space);
• Burnham Point State Park (public park);
• Cedar Point State Park (public park);
• Long Point State Park (public park);
• French Creek State Wildlife Management Area (public open space); and
• NYSDEC Research Station & Aquarium (tourist attraction).

In addition, the study area contains two (2) historic districts - Broadway Historic
District (Village of Cape Vincent) and the Three Mile Bay Historic District
(hamlet of Three Mile Bay). Based on field observations, it appears that many
views in the direction of the Project will generally be screened by the presence of
mature street trees and site landscaping combined with one- and two-story
residential and commercial structures.

The proposed Project will also be visible from much of the Seaway Trail Scenic
Byway. Of the roughly 22.8 miles of the Seaway Trail (NYS Route 12E) traversing
the five-mile study area, the high point of one or more turbines will be visible
from approximately 20.6 miles (approximately 90 percent). For much of the
Seaway Trail, visibility will include a substantial portion (tower, nacelle and
rotor) of multiple turbines.

The NYSDEC visual Policy states,

“Aesthetic impact occurs when there is a detrimental effect on the perceived


beauty of a place or structure. Significant aesthetic impacts are those that
may cause a diminishment of the public enjoyment and appreciation of an
inventoried resource, or one that impairs the character or quality of such a
place. Proposed large facilities by themselves should not be a trigger for a
declaration of significance. Instead, a project by virtue of its siting in visual

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proximity to an inventoried resource may lead staff to conclude that there
may be a significant impact.”

Based on this definition, it is reasonable to conclude that simple visibility of the


proposed Project (albeit a large facility) from any of these affected resources of
statewide significance does not result in detrimental effect on the perceived
beauty of the place or structure; nor will the Project cause the diminishment of
public enjoyment and appreciation of an inventoried resource, or impair the
character or quality of such a place.

Because of the number, scale and distribution of proposed turbines, some portion
of the Project will be visible from places of local interest that do not necessarily
meet the broader statewide threshold for visual significance. Most commonly
affected are roadside views along various state and county highways. Views
were identified along portions of several county and town roads at varying
distance. Most residential neighborhoods in the villages and hamlets where the
prevalence of mature street trees and site landscaping combined with one and
two story structures may substantially limit or screen distant views.

2.14.10 Affected Viewers

The Towns of Cape Vincent, Lyme, and Clayton are quite rural with a very small
year round population. The year-round population of the Town of Cape Vincent
is just 3,345, with a population density of 59.2 persons per square mile.
However, the population of the Town increases to more than 8,000 during the
summer tourist season. T he year-round population compares with a population
density of 88 persons per square mile for Jefferson County and 402 persons per
square mile for New York State, as a whole.

Highways within the study area are relatively lightly traveled. NYS Route 12E
has an AADT volume of less than 1,400 vehicles in the Village of Cape Vincent.
While the proposed Project will be frequently visible to local residents and
travelers, the total number of potentially affected permanent year-round viewers
within the study area is relatively small when compared to other regions of New
York State.

While the Project is generally located inland, away from the majority of the
tourist attractions and traffic, visitors do come to the area specifically to enjoy the
historic, recreational, and scenic resources of the lake, river and islands. When
tourists drive along the north/south portion of NYS Route 12E, they will have
foreground views of the proposed turbines for relatively short distances
(between Favret Road and the Town of Cape Vincent/Lyme municipal
boundary). The sensitivity of individuals to visual quality is variable; but to
many, visual quality is an important and integral part of their outdoor
experience. The presence of wind turbines may diminish the aesthetic
experience for those that believe that the rural landscape should be preserved for
agricultural, rural residential, open space and similar uses. Such viewers will

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likely have high sensitivity to the visual quality and landscape character,
regardless of the frequency of duration of their exposure to the proposed Project.

For those with strong utilitarian beliefs, the presence of the proposed Project may
have little aesthetic impact on their recreational experience. While visitors will
certainly enjoy the outstanding scenic quality of the waterfront, visitors and
recreational users will also be cognizant of existing roadside and shoreline
residential and commercial uses of varying aesthetic quality, as well as utility
infrastructure.

2.14.11 Permanent Visual Impacts

Unlike development projects such as housing complexes and commercial centers,


the proposed Project can and will be decommissioned and removed at the end of
its useful working life. All of the towers will be removed and the Project Area
restored to as near its present condition as possible, thus restoring the landscape
to its original condition.

2.14.12 Mitigation Measures

By their very nature, modern wind energy projects are large and highly visible
facilities. The turbine heights (up to 427 ft. to top of blade) largely dictate that
there will be a visual impact from a project. For example, as discussed in Section
2.14.4, at least one tower will be visible to approximately 78 percent of the five-
mile radius study area and at least one FAA light (placed at 275 feet high on
tower) will be visible within 75 percent of the same study area.

Using the same methodology it was calculated that a project consisting of 150-
foot shorter wind turbines (275 foot to tip of blade) would only reduce the
amount of the study area where the turbines would not be visible by 3.6 percent,
or less than 4,000 acres out of 127,000. This would come at the cost of either
significantly reducing the amount of energy produced by the Project, or of
significantly increasing the number of wind turbines which would need to be
placed within the site.

Nonetheless, BP Wind Energy is committed to minimizing to the extent practical


the visual impact of the Project to sensitive receptors based on community and
agency input. Mitigation measures are being evaluated and implemented in
order to limit impacts, including the following examples:

Professional Design
• Proposed turbines will not be used for commercial advertising, or include
conspicuous lettering or corporate logos identifying the Project owner or
equipment manufacturer.
• BP Wind Energy has maximized to the extent practical the subsurface routing
of electrical interconnects used to transmit power from turbine locations to
the Project substation.

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• BP Wind Energy is working with the adjoining St. Lawrence Wind Power
Project to develop a single transmission line corridor to service both projects,
thereby eliminating the visual impacts of multiple transmission corridors).
• Ancillary facilities (substation, operations and maintenance yard) will be
located, to the extent feasible, away from major transportation corridors in
order to reduce the perceived visual impact from those parts of the Project
which are often regarded as the most “industrial” aspects.

Screening
• Based on the proximity to the Project, some sensitive receptors may be
screened from visual impacts through the strategic planting of vegetation.
This may still result in a short-term impact if it takes a period of time for the
vegetation to reach the mature state needed for screening purposes.
• Ancillary facilities will be screened from view through the use of screening
vegetation or fencing material.

Camouflage/Disguise
• The color of the blades, nacelle, and tower will be a neutral off-white. While
the FAA mandates this color for aviation safety, this color is well suited to
minimize visual contrast with the background sky.

Non-specular Materials
• Wind turbine towers will be painted metal structures and blades will be
painted fiberglass composite. Where specifications permit, non-specular
paint will be used on all outside surfaces to minimize reflected glare.

Lighting
• Due to the height of the proposed turbines, the Federal Aviation
Administration requires red flashing aviation obstruction lighting be placed
atop the nacelle on 45 of the 84 turbines to assure safe flight navigation in the
vicinity of the Project. This federally mandated safety feature cannot be
omitted or reduced.
• Lighting for the substation should be task oriented (e.g. maintenance and
emergency).

Maintenance
• How a landscape and structures in the landscape are maintained has
aesthetic implications to the long-term visual character of the Project. BP
Wind Energy places a high priority on facility maintenance, not only for
operational purposes, but for aesthetic appearance as well. Recognizing that
its public image will be directly linked to the outward appearance of its
facilities and desiring to be a welcomed member of the community, BP Wind
Energy will implement a strict policy of maintenance, including materials
and practices that ensure a clean and well maintained appearance over the
full life of the facility.

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Decommissioning
• At the end of the Project life, idled turbines could represent a significant and
unnecessary visual impact to the local area. BP Wind Energy will maintain a
well-funded decommissioning plan to ensure that these structures can be
dismantled and removed from the Project Area upon termination of power
generation at the site.

2.15 SOUND: ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING

The sound or noise produced during the construction and operation of wind
power projects is a significant concern to local residents. “Noise” in this sense is
defined as any unwanted sound. Certain activities inherently produce sound
levels or sound characteristics that have the potential to create noise (i.e.,
unwanted sound). The sound generated by proposed or existing facilities may
become noise due to land use surrounding the facility, particularly if these lands
contain residential, commercial, institutional, or recreational uses, and the sound
is perceived as noise by the users of the adjacent lands.113

2.15.1 Fundamentals of Sound Analysis

Some properties of sound that can be measured include:

Frequency. Frequency is the rate at which the source produces sound waves, i.e.
complete cycles of high and low pressure regions. In other words, frequency is
the number of times per second that a vibrating body completes one cycle of
motion. The unit for frequency is the hertz (Hz = 1 cycle per second). Low
pitched or bass sounds have low frequencies. High-pitched or treble sounds
have high frequencies. The sensitivity of the human ear to sound depends on the
frequency or pitch of the sound. People hear some frequencies better than others.

Sound Pressure. Sound pressure level (SPL) is the amount of air pressure
fluctuation a sound source creates. We “hear” or perceive sound pressure as
loudness. Sound pressure is usually expressed in units called pascals (Pa). The
common sounds we hear have sound pressure over a very wide range (0.00002
Pa - 20 Pa). It is difficult to work with such a broad range of sound pressures. To
overcome this difficulty a unit of decibel (dB) is used which compresses the scale
of numbers into a manageable range. SPL can be statistically summarized as the
average, or L50 sound level, or as the residual, or L90, sound level. The L50 is the
sound level exceeded during 50 percent of a measurement interval; the L90 is the
sound level exceeded during 90 percent of a measurement interval. The L90
excludes sporadic, short-duration sound events, thereby characterizing the more
quiet lulls between such events. It represents the quietest 10% of the time and is
thus used as a conservative basis for evaluating the audibility of a new sound
source.

NYSDEC. 2001. Program Policy: Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts. DEP-00-1- Division of
113

Environmental Permits, Albany, New York. Issued October 6, 2000; revised February 2, 2001.

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Sound Power. The sound power is the sound energy transferred per second
from the sound source to the air. A sound source has a given, constant sound
power that does not change if the source is placed in a different environment.
Sound power is expressed in units called watts (W). An average whisper
generates a sound power of 0.0000001 watts, a truck horn 0.1 W, and a turbo jet
engine 100,000 W. Like sound pressure, sound power (in W) is usually expressed
as sound power levels in dB. Sound measurement readings can be adjusted to
correspond to human hearing with an “A-weighting filter” which de-emphasizes
low frequencies or pitches that are outside the normal range of human hearing.
Decibels measured using this filter are A-weighted and are called dB(A).

Time Distribution. Sound can be continuous, variable, intermittent or


impulsive, depending on how it changes over time. Continuous sound remains
constant and stable over a given time period.

2.15.2 Ambient Sound Levels in the Project Area

The site area is rural and can be characterized as consisting mostly of farms on
relatively large tracts of land irregularly interspersed with scattered residences
on smaller parcels. On the whole, the distribution of residential dwellings over
the Project Area is fairly sparse, but there are several areas of higher density,
such as the hamlets of Rosiere and Three Mile Bay. The site topography is
essentially flat. In terms of vegetation, the area is a largely even mixture of open
fields and wooded areas. Most of the homes and farm houses have at least a few
trees immediately around them.

In 2007 BP Wind Energy retained Hessler Associates to perform two detailed


ambient sound studies for the Project Area – a summer survey and a winter
survey.

For the surveys, seven measurement locations were chosen to evenly cover and
represent the entire area (see Appendix H). These included a variety of settings
deliberately chosen to evaluate if background sound levels were uniform or
variable over the Project Area. For example, some monitors were placed at
isolated farms while others were located near the three relatively high
population density areas mentioned above.

The summer survey was carried out over a two week period during summertime
conditions (with the leaves on the trees) between 8/23/2007 and 9/9/2007. The
winter survey was carried out between 12/14/2007 and 1/3/2008.

Summer Survey
During the summer survey, leaf rustle, even in relatively light winds, was
notable (it is typical that leaf rustle generates significantly higher sound levels
than might be observed at the same location when the trees are bare). In
addition, normal summertime noise from insects, such as cicadas and crickets,
was present at the time of the survey, resulting in elevated ambient sound levels
on most evenings and at other times of day.

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Although the amount of cloud cover varied during the summer survey from
clear to overcast at various times, the weather conditions during the survey
period were generally fair with no significant precipitation after the first day,
when a very strong thunderstorm passed over the area. Winds during the
survey ranged from light to moderate winds.

The L90 sound level is a useful noise metric for evaluating community noise in
rural environments where wind turbines are typically used for power
generation. The L90, or residual, sound level is a conservative measure of
background sound levels in the sense that it filters out short-duration, sporadic
noise events that cannot be relied upon to provide consistent and continual
‘masking’ noise (i.e., which could obscure potential turbine noise). This level
represents the quietest 10% of the time, and characterizes the momentary lulls
between relatively short duration noise events, such as cars passing by or tractor
activity in a neighboring field. As such, it is typically considered to be a
conservatively low background level with regard to evaluating potential impacts
from a new source.

The Leq sound level is the average sound level over the entire time period being
assessed. In the Leq, short term noise phenomena noted above (i.e., cars passing,
tractor activity) are averaged into the dataset, resulting in a higher number than
the L90 sound level.

The L90 sound levels over consecutive 10 minute periods for all 7 positions during
the summer survey are plotted for the survey period in Figure 2.15-1.

Winter Survey
During the winter survey, conditions were generally overcast and cold. On 17 of
the 20 days it snowed, with accumulations ranging from a trace to a half an inch.

Winter surveys usually provide lower background noise levels at any given
wind speed, due to the lack of leaves on trees and bushes, and the scarcity of
insects. Additionally, in general, there are less sources of human outdoor noise
generation.

Winds during the survey were fairly light about half of the time, and moderate to
high the remainder of the time, with 4 or 5 periods of very strong winds.

The L90 sound levels over consecutive 10 minute periods for all 7 positions during
the winter survey are plotted for the survey period in Figure 2.15-2.

During the summer, a daily trend is clearly evident in the average site-wide
sound level, where it briefly reaches a minimum in the early morning hours (on
some days more than others) and then rapidly increases. These minima are
generally associated with a temporary reduction in insect noise followed by a
sudden resumption of insect noise, possibly augmented by an increase in man-

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made and natural sounds in the morning. This daily cycle was less pronounced
during winter monitoring.

FIGURE 2.15-1: 10 Minute L90 Sound Levels at All Monitoring Positions


Summer 2007 Monitoring

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FIGURE 2.15-2: 10 Minute L90 Sound Levels at All Monitoring Positions
Winter 2007/2008 Monitoring

The selected GE 1.6-100 wind turbines only operate and produce noise when the
wind exceeds a minimum cut-in speed of 3.5 m/s (measured at the hub height).
This is important to note, because the lowest background sound conditions
correspond to times when the wind speed is lowest. As wind speeds increase
above the cut-in speed, both background noise levels rise and turbine generated
noise levels increase up to about 8 m/s when the sound produced by turbines
reaches a maximum and no longer increases with wind speed (although
background noise levels continue to rise as wind speed increases).

A 3.5 m/s, hub height wind speed can be estimated to be equal to a wind speed
of 2.3 m/s at an elevation 10 meters above ground level, based on wind shear
calculations:

v / vo = (h / ho)Į
where:
v = the velocity at height h (m/s)
vo = the velocity at height ho (m/s)
Į = the wind shear exponent

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For Cape Vincent, a wind shear exponent of 0.2 was selected, which corresponds
to land with row crops, or low bushes with a few trees.

Figure 2.15-3 shows a regression analysis of sound levels vs. 10 meter wind
speed during summer months. According to this plot, for summertime
conditions, background sound levels over the Project Area are only partially
driven by wind-induced natural sounds. Sounds from such sources as crickets,
distant farm equipment and local roads may dominate the sound level observed
at any given location so that wind-induced sounds are secondary. As shown by
the trend line, there is only a very slight tendency towards louder sound levels
during windier conditions.

FIGURE 2.15-3: Regression Analysis of Sound Levels vs. Wind Speed


Summer 2007 Monitoring

Figure 2.15-4 shows a markedly different correlation between 10 meter wind


speed and L90 sound levels during winter months, due to the reduction in the
number of competing background noise sources.

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FIGURE 2.15-4: Regression Analysis of Sound Levels vs. Wind Speed
Winter 2007/2008 Monitoring

TABLE 2.15-1: Measured L90 Sound Levels at Integer Wind Speeds

Wind Speed at 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
10m, m/s
L90 Sound Level,
dB(A)
Summertime 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 51
Wintertime 24 27 30 34 37 40 44 47

From all summer and winter 10 minute L90 averages, an average L90 was
calculated to be representative of all wind conditions when the turbines would
be operating. The GE 1.6-100 operates between a cut-in speed of 3.5 m/s and
cut-out speed of 25 m/s. Outside of these limits, the turbines are not operational
and therefore silent, so the ambient noise during those times is irrelevant as it
will not be affected by the Project.

For the purpose of calculations, readings from the summer and winter studies
that were associated with speeds at or below 3.5 m/s cut-in speed were removed.
There were no 10-minute periods in either study that exceeded 25 m/s.

This ‘operational’ L90 was calculated at an average of 46.7 dB(A) for summertime
and 30.5 dB(A) for wintertime. The summertime average operational Leq is 49.5
dB(A), and for wintertime the average operational Leq is 41.1 dB(A).

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2.15.3 Regulatory Noise Limits

NYSDEC Noise Assessment Guidelines


NYSDEC has not set specific regulatory noise limits, but the guidance document
Policy Assessing and Mitigating Noise Impacts114 provides a methodology for
evaluating potential community impacts from any new noise source. The policy
uses a two-level approach to evaluate the cumulative noise increase. A First
Level Noise Impact Evaluation is carried out to model noise from the future
project in an extremely simple and conservative manner, considering only the
reduction in sound level with distance. This analysis indicates that a cumulative
increase in the total ambient sound pressure level of 6 dB(A) or less is unlikely to
constitute an adverse community impact. However, sound pressure increases of
more than 6 dB(A) are required to be assessed in greater detail to identify if any
sensitive receptors are present.

If any residences or other potentially sensitive receptors are identified as being


within the area of potential concern (6 dB(A)), a Second Level Noise Impact
Evaluation noise modeling study is carried out, considering all normal sound
propagation loss mechanisms (in addition to pure distance losses).

Presently, the Town of Cape Vincent has no local noise regulations or guidelines
for wind power facilities. However, BP Wind Energy has designed the current
array plan to maintain expected sound levels from the turbines below 48 dB(A)
on all properties of landowners that are not participating in the Project.

2.16 SOUND: IMPACTS

2.16.1 Project Construction Sound Impacts

Noise from construction activities associated with the Project is likely to


temporarily constitute a moderate unavoidable impact at some but certainly not
all homes in the Project Area. Assessing and quantifying these impacts is
difficult because construction activities will constantly be moving from place to
place around the site and the various activities will generate different noise
levels, leading to highly variable impacts with time at any given point. In
general, the maximum potential impact at any single residence might be
analogous to a few days to a week of repair or repaving work occurring on a
nearby road. More commonly, the sounds from project construction are likely to
be faintly perceived as the far off noise of diesel- powered earthmoving
equipment characterized by such things as irregular engine revs, back up alarms,
gravel dumping and the noise of metal tracks from heavy construction
equipment.

Construction of the Project is anticipated to consist of several principal activities:


• Access road construction and electrical tie-in line trenching;
• Site preparation and foundation installation at each turbine site;

114NYSDEC. 2001

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• Material and subassembly delivery; and
• Erection.

The individual pieces of equipment likely to be used for each of these phases and
their typical noise levels, as reported in the Power Plant Construction Noise
Guide115, are tabulated below in Table 2.16-1. The table shows the maximum total
sound levels that might temporarily occur at the closest residences (at least 750 ft.
away) and the distance from a specific construction site at which its sound would
drop to 40 dB(A). A level of 40 dB(A) is generally considered so quiet (about the
sound level in a library) that it is not objectionable even when the background
sound level is negligible. Background masking for construction phase noise has
no dependence on wind speed so there will be times (i.e., during calm/quiet
periods) when construction noise is more prominent as compared to
background.

TABLE 2.16-1: Construction Equipment Sound Levels by Phase

Max. Sound Distance Until


Typical Sound Est. Maximum Level at a Sound Level
Level at 50 ft, Total Level at 50 ft Distance of 750 Decreases to
Equipment Description dB(A) per Phase, dB(A)* ft, dB(A) 40 dB(A), ft.
Road Construction and Electrical Line Trenching
Dozer, 250-700 hp 88
Front End Loader, 300-
88
750 hp
92 63 6,000
Grader, 13-16 ft. blade 85
Excavator 86
Rock Trencher ** 86
Foundation Work, Concrete Pouring
Piling Auger 88
Concrete Pump, 150 cu 89.5 60 4,750
84
yd/hr
Material and Subassembly Delivery
Off Hwy Hauler, 115 ton 90
90 62 5,900
Flatbed Truck 87
Erection
Mobile Crane, 75 85 85 56 3,150
* Not all vehicles are likely to be in simultaneous operation. Maximum level represents the highest
level realistically possible at any given time.
** Sound pressure levels (SPL) for a rock trencher at a reference distance of 50 feet was calculated
based on its typical sound power level (PWL) of 120 dB(A).

Depending on the particular activity, the values in Table 2.16-1 generally indicate
that sounds from construction equipment may be significant at distances of less
than 3,400 to 5,500 feet. The noise impact of construction activities on the few
residences within this distance from construction sites would be temporary and
would occur only during daytime working hours. Most residences in the areas

Barnes, James D., Miller, Laymon N., Wood, Eric W. 1977. Power Plant Construction Noise
115

Guide, Empire State Electric Energy Research Corp., New York, Albany.

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surrounding the project will be too far away to experience any significant noise
from construction equipment.

Although blasting is not anticipated to be a common activity for construction of


the Project, blasting may occasionally be required if the turbines are being
installed in areas where bedrock is close to the surface and cannot be broken up
by other means. More frequently, foundation holes are excavated using
backhoes or pneumatic jack to break up subsoil bedrock. If blasting is required,
the level of noise generated will be dependent upon technical specifications (size
and depth of drilled holes, type and amount of explosive), atmospheric and
geologic conditions.

Another primary noise source during construction will be the use of rock
trenching to lay electrical interconnects underground in areas of shallow
bedrock. This exercise will be comparable in nature to the trenching along area
roads in recent years in support of water district extension projects.

Noise from the very small amount of daily vehicular traffic to and from the
current site of construction should be negligible in magnitude relative to normal
traffic levels (even given the rural nature of the roads in the Project Area) and
temporary in duration at any given location.

2.16.2 Project Operations Sound Impacts

The major noise sources associated with the Project are expected to include up to
84 GE 1.6-100 wind turbine generators. The wind turbines will be installed on 80
meter tall towers, with a 100 meter rotor diameter.

Operating wind turbines most commonly produce some broadband sound (a


“swishing” or “whooshing” sound) as a result of revolving rotor blades
encountering turbulence in the air. Although less common with newer turbine
designs, wind turbines can also produce tonal sounds (a “hum” or “whine”)
caused by mechanical components.)116

The potential sound-related impacts resulting from the operation of the wind
turbines are described below.

Electrical Substation Noise Level


High voltage overhead lines and substations can generate noise, the level of
which depends mainly on the voltage of the overhead line or substation.
Transformers are installed at many substations, and generate low frequency
hum. Transformers typically generate a noise level ranging from 60 to 80
dB(A).117

116 AWEA. 2005. American Wind Energy Association. Facts about Wind Energy and Noise.
http://www.awea.org/pubs/factsheets/WE Noise.pdf. Accessed January 2007.
117 Grigsby, Leonard L. 2001. The Electric Power Engineering Handbook. CRC Press.

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Using data compiled from measurements at comparable size and voltage
substations, Hessler Associates performed modeling that demonstrated that one
non-participating residence could experience a sound pressure level of up to 48
dB(A) resulting from operation of the project substation. This will be a
continuous noise source, irrespective of wind speed, although wind direction
will likely affect how often that residence is in fact subject to a sound pressure
level that high (noise modeling was done assuming a unidirectional wind).

Turbine Noise Level


The published sound power level (PWL) expected to be produced by the GE 1.6-
100 wind turbine is provided in Table 2.16-2.

TABLE 2.16-2: Sound Power Levels at Integer Wind Speeds (80 meter hub height)

Wind Speed at 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
10m, m/s
Sound Level,
94 96 100 103 105 105 105
dB(A)

Based on GE data, at a 10 m wind speed of 8 m/s or higher, a sound power level


of up to 105dB(A) may be measured at the hub reference height of 80 meters
above ground elevation adjacent to the turbine location. Lower wind speeds
result in reduced sound levels down to cut-in speed of 3.5m/s, where sound
power levels at the 80 meter hub height will be less than 94 dB(A).

It is important to note in this context that a sound power level is not the same
thing as a sound pressure level, which is the familiar quantity measured by
instruments and perceived by the ear. A power level is a specialized, calculated
measure, expressed in terms of Watts that is primarily used for acoustical
modeling and in design analyses. It is a function of both the sound pressure
level produced by a source at a particular distance and the effective radiating
area or physical size of the source. The basic mathematical relationship between
power and pressure is as follows:

Lw: Lp + l0 log (A), dB re I pW

Where,
Lw : Sound Power Level
Lp : Sound Pressure Level
A = The effective radiating surface area at the point of the pressure level
measurement, m2

Site Specific Noise Modeling


Using a generic design sound power level spectrum, a set of worst-case sound
level contour plots for the site were calculated using the "Cadna/A", ver. 3.6.1l5
noise modeling program developed by DataKustik, GmbH (Munich). This
software is essentially an automated version of ISO 9613-2 Acoustics -

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Attenuation of sound during propagation outdoors118 (the most common and
accepted methodology for calculating sound propagation worldwide) and
enables the Project and its surroundings, including terrain features, to be
realistically modeled in three-dimensions.

Each turbine is represented as a point sound source at a height of 80 m above the


local ground surface (design hub height), based on the currently proposed array
plan.

Field tests of operational wind projects indicate that the mean sound level at any
location due to a complex arrangement of wind turbines can be very accurately
predicted using ISO 9613 with the following two assumptions:
• An omni-directional wind, and
• A moderate ground absorption coefficient of 0.5.

The sound level from each turbine is assumed to be the nominally maximum
downwind sound level in all directions simultaneously. In other words,
although physically impossible, an omni-directional wind of each speed modeled
is assumed.

The ISO ground absorption coefficient ranges from 0 for water or hard concrete
surfaces to 1 for absorptive surfaces such as farm fields, dirt or sand. It has been
found that a middle value of 0.5 is appropriate for rural farming country in the
sense that predicted sound levels agree very well with measurements of turbine-
only sound levels over a variety of wind speeds.

Modeling was conducted at 4 different wind speeds – 3 m/s, 4 m/s, 5 m/s, and 7
m/s - as measured at a 10 meter reference height. The lower two wind speeds
were modeled in order to evaluate differences in impacts that might result from
varying cut-in speeds during low wind speeds that correspond with low winter
background noise levels at the site.

The point at which the Project is likely to be most prominent relative to the
background level is at the wind speed where the wintertime L90 background
level is lowest relative to the turbine sound power level (both of these quantities
are wind speed dependent); in other words, this is where the differential
between the background level and turbine power level is anticipated to be the
greatest. Using the winter survey results and the GE 1.6-100 sound data, this
critical condition occurs during a 5-7 m/s wind. Under higher wind conditions,
the differentials decrease, indicating that background noise is progressively
obscuring Project noise to a greater degree.

In addition, 7 m/s winds were modeled in order to evaluate impacts at the top of
the turbine sound power output curve.

ISO 9613-2 Acoustics-Attenuation of sound during propagation outdoors, Part2,"A general


118

method of calculation", International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Dec. 1989.

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Figures 2.16-1 through 2.16-4 illustrate the noise contours throughout the site
which will result from the operation of the wind power turbines in the proposed
array at the discussed range of wind speeds.

Potential Adverse Effects from Wind Turbine Noise


The expert panel study “Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects”119 noted a
number of potential adverse effects resulting from wind turbine sound pressure
levels, including:
• Speech Interference
• Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
• Task Interference
• Annoyance
• Sleep Disturbance
• Damage to Organs
• Chronic Stress
• Detectable Body Vibration

Following their review and analysis of current knowledge, the panel reached
consensus on the following conclusions:
• There is no evidence that the audible or sub-audible sounds emitted by wind
turbines have any direct adverse physiological effects.
• The ground-borne vibrations from wind turbines are too weak to be detected
by, or to affect, humans.
• The sounds emitted by wind turbines are not unique. There is no reason to
believe, based on the levels and frequencies of the sounds and the panel’s
experience with sound exposures in occupational settings, that the sounds
from wind turbines could plausibly have direct adverse health consequences.

In order to assess the potential human health and safety impacts that may result
from operation of the Project, guidance from various agencies was considered, as
discussed below.

Both the US EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider noise
levels of 70 dB(A) to represent a significant human health impact, such that
hearing protection is recommended for anyone exposed to an average sound
pressure level of 70 dB(A) or higher.

Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, An Expert Panel Review - Prepared for: American
119

Wind Energy Association and Canadian Wind Energy Association, December 2009.

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Figure 2.16-1: Cape Vincent Wind Power Project Noise Impact Modeling, 3 m/s Wind

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