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Map-Based Repowering and Reorganization of a Wind Resource Area to Minimize Burrowing Owl and Other Bird Fatalities
Research Ecologist, 3108 Finch Street, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Gis Specialist, Neher Consulting, 7241 34th Street, North Highlands, CA 95660, USA
East Bay Regional Park District, 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, CA 94605-0381, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 August 2009; Accepted: 19 October 2009 / Published: 23 October 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wind Energy
Abstract: Wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (Alameda/Contra Costa Counties, California, USA) generate about 730 GWh of electricity annually, but have been killing thousands of birds each year, including <2,000 raptors and hundreds of burrowing owls. We have developed collision hazard maps and hazard ratings of wind turbines to guide relocation of existing wind turbines and careful repowering to modern turbines to reduce burrowing owl fatalities principally, and other birds secondarily. Burrowing owls selected burrow sites lower on slopes and on smaller, shallower slopes than represented by the average 10 × 10 m2 grid cell among 187,908 grid cells sampled from 2,281,169 grid cells comprising a digital elevation model (DEM) of the study area. Fuzzy logic and discriminant function analysis produced likelihood surfaces encompassing most burrowing owl burrows within a fraction of the study area, and the former corresponded with burrowing owl fatalities and the latter with other raptor fatalities. Our ratings of wind turbine hazard were more predictive of burrowing owl fatalities, but would be more difficult to implement. Careful repowering to modern wind turbines would most reduce fatalities of burrowing owls and other birds while adding about 1,000 GWh annually toward California’s 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Keywords: Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area; burrowing owls; fatality rates; fuzzy logic; GIS; raptors; rating system; ground squirrels; Vasco Caves Regional Preserve; wind turbines
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Smallwood, K.S.; Neher, L.; Bell, D.A. Map-Based Repowering and Reorganization of a Wind Resource Area to Minimize Burrowing Owl and Other Bird Fatalities. Energies 2009, 2, 915-943.
Smallwood KS, Neher L, Bell DA. Map-Based Repowering and Reorganization of a Wind Resource Area to Minimize Burrowing Owl and Other Bird Fatalities. Energies. 2009; 2(4):915-943.
Smallwood, K. Shawn; Neher, Lee; Bell, Douglas A. 2009. "Map-Based Repowering and Reorganization of a Wind Resource Area to Minimize Burrowing Owl and Other Bird Fatalities." Energies 2, no. 4: 915-943.