I’m catching up on a bunch of old articles of interest. Here are a few articles over the last year on various types of devastation that wind turbines cause wildlife. Also, a few projects being halted in order to prevent the killing.
4/2/15 – (Yes, yes, an April 2015 article discussed in March 2016. Like I said, I have a lot of catching up to do.) Chris Clarke at ReWire – Study Proves How Little We Know About Wind Power and Eagle Mortality – Mr. Clarke cites a particular peer-reviewed study on eagle mortality at a wind facility near Palm Springs.
He explains the subtle nuance in the report and describes how people could take part of the conclusions and use it to support their opinion. If read and analyzed carefully, Mr. Clarke says the paper does not provide any conclusive proof of anything.
All it offers is observations by teams that were on site a few months of the year tracking desert tortoises. While doing their visits a few days at a time over the course of only 4 months a year, they documented whatever bird carcasses they happened to stumble across. Not exactly a conclusive study.
The report cites a separate study that placed chicken carcasses in the desert to see how fast predators ate them up. That study found only 1 of 10 chicken carcasses were still in place after 10 days.
The point of Mr. Clarke’s post is that this study is one of very few that actually take an academic approach to look at avian mortality. To me, the research raises far more questions than it answers. However, this is indicative of the limited amount of serious research in print.
While acknowledging I read Mr. Clarke’s caution to be careful how we interpret this report, what jumps out at me is the idea that maybe we should know more about how much wind turbines affect birds before building a huge number of turbines that will be in operation for 20 or 30 years.
2/18/15 – Chris Clarke at ReWire – Another Eagle Death at Nevada Wind Project – the Spring Valley Wind project near Eli, Nevada took out its first eagle in February 2013. The 152 mW wind farm scored its second (recorded) eagle kill in January 2015.
Three more kills (remember to look for them with your eyes closed!) and the slice-and-dice facility will be an ace.
The owner, Pattern Energy, does not have a “taking permit” which would allow occasional killing of eagles. Article says the only federal response was to conduct an eagle survey. Apparently there won’t be any prosecution for offing two eagles. No fines. No penalties at all.
Golden Eagles are not on the endangered species list, but they are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act as well as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. That makes it a federal crime to harm an eagle.
10/22/15 – Million Dollar Way – Finally Some Common Sense: Slicers and Dicers Put On Hold Due To Nesting Bald Eagles – A proposed slice-and-dice project has been put on hold. The wind farm would have 59 turbines with theoretical capacity of 100.4 mW at cost of $175M in a 14,700 acre project. Turns out there is one nesting pair of bald eagles within the boundary of the environmental study and several more near the project.
The project team sorta’, like, kinda’, somehow forgot to mention the nesting eagles in any of their paperwork. Fish and Wildlife Service reminded the developer there was one active nest inside the study area, another 2.4 miles, and a third 4.5 miles from the project.
11/5/15 – Million Dollar Way – Tortoises Block Wind Towers – A federal judge overturned an environmental impact statement regarding a 200 MW solar project named Searchlight Wind Energy Project. The bird-killer project had been approved by BLM, FWS, and Secretary of Interior.
Article says this is the first time a federal judge has overturned a project that had all its federal approvals.
Reason cited is the study did not appropriately consider the possible impact on golden eagles and desert tortoises. Other than conducting the EIS with their eyes closed, it was a good research project.
1/20/15 – Bismarck Tribune – Public hearing set for wind project – Brady Wind LLC, a sub of NextEra Energy, hasn’t given up on a slice-and-dicer farm in Stark County. The state PUC has another hearing scheduled to consider again their proposed 87 turbine wind farm in southern Stark County.
Basic parameters are a proposed 87 turbines with nameplate, or theoretical capacity, of 150 mW. Estimated cost is $235M, or $2.7M per turbine, or $1.6M per mW potential output. Project will require a 19 mile long transmission line rated at 230 kilovolt at cost of $12M.