Questions about Health, Safety, and the Environment

How do you address potential bird and bat impacts?

Wind projects go through stringent consultation, analysis, and permitting with state and federal wildlife agencies, which evaluate and regulate any potential impacts the project might have on wildlife. These studies are all approved by their respective agencies, and the project must comply with the necessary regulations before being permitted to build and operate. The wind industry has gone to great lengths to incorporate advanced siting, construction, and operational practices to address concerns of impacts to birds, bats, and other wildlife.

Properly sited wind energy projects protect birds and wildlife by producing no dangerous pollutants or carbon emissions.  While birds do occasionally collide with turbine blades, modern wind farms are far less harmful to birds than buildings, communication towers, power lines, and vehicles. In fact, turbines account for only a small fraction, about .0003%, of all human-related bird deaths.


What about other wildlife impacts?

To date, there is no evidence that wind energy has any negative impact on wild mammals or livestock. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see cows or deer grazing right next to turbines in project areas.


Why is wind energy good for water use and local water quality?

In contrast to some forms of energy that can pollute local water supplies, wind energy produces no hazardous waste that can pollute rivers or streams, and it uses nearly zero water during operation, making it an ideal energy source in a water-constrained world.


Are wind turbines noisy?

Modern turbine technology has been very effective in minimizing sound. Almost all modern turbines now employ quiet electric yaw motors, and new blade designs focus specifically on sound reduction. Rocky Forge Wind will comply with noise standards built into Botetourt County’s Wind Energy Ordinance.


Will the turbines create low-frequency infrasound?

Some claim that infrasound below the range of human hearing causes health problems, but in truth, infrasound is generated by phenomena all around us. Natural examples include wind and waves. Man-made examples include cars, airplanes, appliances, and other large machines. Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals have found that inaudible infrasound from wind turbines does not cause negative health impacts.


What about aviation impacts?

We are working with the FAA and local airports to study the effect the project may have on area air navigation. In its preliminary report, the FAA estimated that Rocky Forge Wind would not negatively affect area air traffic, but we are still waiting on its final determination.


Will the wind turbines affect military airspace?

Apex consults with the military and the Department of Defense early in the siting process to ensure that the project can coexist with military training exercises. During the FAA process, the military is also given the ability to comment on the turbine filings. In the development of Rocky Forge, the military did request that we use night vision–compatible lighting to assist pilots who are flying in the dark, which we readily agreed to.


What is shadow flicker?

Shadow flicker is a rare occurrence and also highly predictable, because it depends on the position of both the sun and the wind turbine as well as the distance from the observer. The wind farm will be designed such that each wind turbine is appropriately set back from residences in order to manage the number of occurrences of shadow flicker. Conditions must be just right for shadow flicker to occur, and turbines can be located, per recommendations in the relevant studies, to limit this on nearby residences.


How do you prevent ice throw?

Rocky Forge Wind will be designed such that each wind turbine is appropriately set back from roads and property lines to minimize the likelihood of injury in the rare instance that ice is thrown from a wind turbine blade. Modern turbine technology includes sensors that help prevent these occurrences.