Wind farms are a collection of wind turbines placed in the same location for the purpose of generating electricity. To produce the amount of energy required, they must be placed in areas with reliable wind speeds. Private companies are developing most of the wind farms in the United States. Wind farm developers use their own land or lease land from farmers, ranchers, or in some cases, the government. Developers sell electricity from the wind farms to power marketers, electric utilities, or directly to specific companies or government agencies.
NYSERDA Sponsored Wind Development
New York State is recognized as having approximately 5,000 MW of land–based wind potential, enough to generate about 13 million megawatt–hours (MWh) or equivalent to 10 percent of the State's electricity consumption. As a result of electric power deregulation, the demand for clean energy is expected to rise as more consumers exercise their rights to choose cleaner sources of electricity.
Through 2001, NYSERDA's New York Energy $martSM program has supported the construction and operation of 41.5 megawatts (MW) of wind energy generation in New York State. NYSERDA is currently supporting extensive wind resource prospecting efforts to identify promising new sites for wind development.
NYSERDA's Wind Energy Development Initiatives
Wind Plant Development Program
NYSERDA's Wind Plant Development Program supported the installation and operation of two large–scale wind power plants in New York. These wind plants, totaling 41.5 MW, are located in Madison County, New York. Their success has been paving the way for present and future wind development at additional locations throughout the State of New York. Additionally, they help to increase the availability of wind energy supported early–stage green marketing efforts, improve regional air quality, and provide economic stimulus to a growing number of communities interested in local renewable resource development. NYSERDA is currently working with three developers to develop four projects totaling 425 MW.
NYSERDA actively supports exploration of prospective wind farm locations in New York State in an effort to capture the economic development benefits associated with this resource potential, while satisfying increased demand for clean resources. These projects measure wind resources, evaluate environmental impacts of a wind farm on the site, secure land rights for measuring the wind speed and for ultimate wind farm development, develop site and interconnection designs, and work with local governments to ensure the success of wind farm projects.
Working with the local governments and landowners is critical to project acceptance and success. Developers must secure land rights to develop the project. Agreements are negotiated where landowners are paid in a lump sum, or through annual royalty payments based on the amount of energy produced by the turbines installed on the land. Developers must also work with local governments to negotiate payments and to ensure that the community accepts the project.
Measuring wind speed is critical element of site evaluation. The performance and economics of wind energy systems are very sensitive to the magnitude and variability of the wind resource, which is highly site specific. Sites with average annual wind speeds of 15 to 17 mph or more are preferred. Wind speeds must be measured for up to a year or more at several locations on a potential wind farm. This helps developers determine plant viability and help developers optimize plant performance by optimally situating the individual wind turbines.
Evaluating wind speeds is crucial to the success of a wind energy project, but equally important is the assessment of the environmental and visual impact as well as the noise intensity produced by a wind farm to human beings and wildlife.
Wind Mapping and Forecasting
One of the biggest barriers to the use of wind energy is the lack of detailed information about wind conditions throughout the State. NYSERDA and AWS TrueWind, an international leader in renewable energy consulting and information services, are working together to produce a detailed wind resource atlas, characterizing the resources available for power production in New York.
Outreach & Education for Wind Planning Projects
Global Energy Concepts (GEC) is working with NYSERDA, local planning agencies, and other government authorities to identify and summarize the experience of wind power development in New York and other states. The information is then used to develop a wind guide for towns and counties, and to develop and conduct workshops to educate various stakeholders about the planning, development, and the implementation of utility–scale wind projects.
Questions on wind planning projects can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SEQR Process – Environmental Assessment Form
In New York State, development projects that receive state funding or require approval by a local government are subject to review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). The SEQR review process typically begins when the developer applies for a permit from a local government agency. In most cases this local government agency will manage the SEQR process as the “lead agency.” Under certain circumstances the SEQR lead agency may be designated by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
For additional information on the SEQR process, visit the DEC's guide to the SEQR process.
Wind development projects that are designated as Type I or unlisted actions under SEQR will be required to prepare and submit an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) to the lead agency. The EAF form assists government agencies in assessing the environmental significance or non–significance of a proposed project, in balance with social and economic factors.
EAF Contents Include:
Environmental Assessment Form – Part One (Project Information)
Environmental Assessment Form – Part Two (Project Impacts and their Magnitude)
Environmental Assessment Form – Part Three (Evaluation of the Importance of Impacts)
Visual EAF Addendum
Figure 1. Site Location
Figure 2. Proposed Site Plan
Figure 3. Federal Wetlands
Figure 4. State wetlands
Figure 5. Soils
Figure 6. Agriculture District Map
Attachment A. Agency Correspondence
Attachment B. Phase I Avian Risk Assessment and Addendum
Attachment C. Agricultural Protection Measures
Attachment D. Visual Impact Assessment
Attachment E. Cultural Resources Survey
Attachment F. Noise Impact Study