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Wind Siting 101

As wind energy becomes more and more economically viable as a power generation source, a large number of small- and medium-sized wind developers have emerged. These companies are in addition to the large national (and in some cases multi-national) players who have been active over the last decade.

Many times these new developers have questions about how to begin the development process, the costs involved, and what to look for when selecting a site for wind power development. This includes wind resource maps, meteorological towers, and anemometers. Our advice to them is to engage experienced engineering consultants early in the site selection process in order to mitigate the associated risks, and allocate appropriate financial budgets for the project development.

Based on our experience and knowledge of the wind industry, we recommend considering the following options when selecting a wind development site.

At the onset, desktop reviews are recommended to identify potential fatal flaws or other critical issues. These evaluations typically include checking for:

  • Threatened and endangered species presence/absence or migration potential.
  • Critical habitat presence/absence or relation to the project site.
  • Avian and bats.
  • Waters and wetlands.
  • Significant habitats.
  • Historical topographic/aerial photography.
  • Cultural, historical, or archaeological resources.
  • Geological or geotechnical issues.
  • Regulatory records.
  • Agency databases.
  • Agency correspondence, if necessary, or client driven.

Based on the information collected and evaluated during the desktop evaluations, and as project planning advances, additional surveys/studies may be required or recommended.

Prior to conducting additional surveys or studies, the client may choose to have a preliminary layout of wind turbine generators (WTG), access roads, laydown yards, substations, operation and maintenance facilities placement, and available transmission line alignments in order to provide target areas of investigation, which may reduce survey/study costs.

As a wind farm site development moves through the stages of identifying an appropriate location, project planning, and site layouts, appropriate areas of development within the site boundaries begin to emerge.

As the project takes shape and moves forward, Terracon offers a wide range of services to assist clients during the permitting, site management, and construction monitoring phases of wind site development. Typical services beyond those addressed in the very early stages can include:

  • Waters/wetlands impacts assessment, permitting, mitigation design, and mitigation monitoring.
  • Construction monitoring.
  • Post-construction monitoring.
  • Cultural, historical, or archaeological resources avoidance and/or mitigation strategies, and permitting.
  • Threatened and endangered species avoidance and/or mitigation strategies, and permitting.
  • Habitat restoration planning and monitoring.
  • Preparation of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) and land disturbance permits.
  • Erosion and sediment control monitoring.
  • Preparation of Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans.
  • Full-scale subsurface exploration and geotechnical engineering analysis.
  • Foundation design.
  • Construction phase structural observation.
  • Construction materials engineering and testing and inspection.