Using innovation and technology to evaluate and monitor potential wind turbine effects to birds and bats in Grafton County
The Groton Wind Project in New Hampshire has been doing more than generating renewable energy since its construction in 2012—it has also been supporting cutting edge science to evaluate wind turbine operations’ pre- and post-construction effects on birds and bats.
When a challenging state permitting process provided the opportunity to evaluate birds and bats at heights and time periods when standard visual observation surveys were not possible, we got creative using a combination of acoustic bat detectors, nocturnal radar units, and satellite telemetry equipment to evaluate potential risk. We set out to demonstrate that the project did not have an unreasonable adverse impact to birds and bats.
This project—using methods developed and designed in coordination with state and federal agencies—helped us lead a first-of-its-kind satellite telemetry study of locally breeding peregrine falcons, a state-listed threatened species. Instead of relying on the standard observational studies to monitor these birds, Stantec partnered with New Hampshire Audubon and Biodiversity Research Institute to outfit adult peregrine falcons nesting near the project with satellite transmitters, a leading technology that monitored their daily use of the area for over five years.
The results we gathered helped determine the accuracy of existing agency-recommended pre-construction survey methods and results for predicting bird and bat risk and helped inform future regulatory reviews in New Hampshire.
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