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Wind Power

Several white wind turbines against a cloudy sky with trees, grass and farm in the foreground. Fall scene.
Since 2009, New York has been a member of the
"Gigawatt Club" with wind power generation
capacity in excess of 1,000 MW.
(Photo: Maple Ridge Wind Farm.
Credit: Nat'l Renewable Energy Lab)

Wind is a powerful and plentiful resource that can provide energy without burning fossil fuel or emitting greenhouse gases.

Since ancient times, sailing vessels and windmills have been turning the energy of the wind into mechanical energy to push ships, pump water and grind grain. Today's advanced wind turbines convert wind energy directly into electricity, which can be moved instantaneously to where it is needed.

A single small wind turbine can generate enough clean electricity for local use. Connect several large turbines to an electric power grid and you have a wind farm -- a wind energy system generating significant amounts of pollution-free, renewable electric power to be used anywhere power lines reach.

New York's Wind Power

Wind generation today. Today in New York, wind power makes a small but real contribution to meeting electric power needs.

Single blade wind turbine against blue sky with men around base during installation
One of three 33 ft tall wind
turbines installed at Union College
in Schenectady. Together they
supply 40 percent of power for the
athletic complex.

The American Wind Energy Association ranks New York eleventh in the nation for installed wind generation capacity. As of Spring 2014, twenty wind energy projects (PDF) (14 KB) are operating with a rated capacity of a little more than 1,812 MW, approximately 2.6 percent of all the electric power available from generation facilities in New York and enough to power more than 500,000 homes. In addition, two wind power projects are under construction in New York, and one is under active review. This wind energy development is critical in meeting New York's renewable energy goals.

Wind generation tomorrow. But today's wind power is only the beginning for New York, the 15th windiest state in the nation. Usable wind sites are found in most parts of the state -- according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, New York's wind resource has the potential to fill more than half of the state's current electricity needs.

DEC Environmental Review of Wind Power Proposals

Large wind projects with a capacity to generate 25 megawatts (MW) or more are reviewed according to provisions of the Public Service Law Article 10 siting process (see link in right column leaving DEC website). Article 10 provides a unified review and approval process for major electric generating facilities in New York State by addressing state and local permitting requirements in a single process.

Wind projects with a capacity to generate less than 25 MW do not go through the Article 10 process but are subject to applicable State and local laws or regulations, including the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). Depending on the specific location of these projects, one or more of the following DEC Permits may be required:

Guidelines for Conducting Bird and Bat Studies at Commercial Wind Energy Projects

Updated Draft Guidelines Available for Public Comment

DEC has updated its Guidelines for Conducting Bird and Bat Studies at Commercial Wind Energy Projects. The Guidelines were last revised August 2009 (PDF) (203 KB), and the recommended methods and analyses described in this April 2016 draft (PDF)(616 KB) are based on DEC's current knowledge of the best procedures for conducting thorough and meaningful pre-and post-construction studies.

The most recent updates to the Guidelines dated April 2016 include the following:

  • Changes to the general wording of DEC's recommendation process
  • Editorial changes to improve the flow of the document
  • Expanded discussion of habitat fragmentation impacts
  • Inclusion of studies for recently state-listed species
  • Expanded discussion of avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures

Public comments are being accepted on the April 2016 draft until May 20, 2016. Submissions can be emailed to mailto:fw.habitat@dec.ny.gov?Subject=Comments on Draft Wind Power Bird and Bat Studies or mailed to:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Habitat, 5th Floor
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4756