Latest: New wind farm releases plan to mitigate bird deaths

Renewable energy installations can cause thousands of bird deaths but have been slow to respond.

  • An injured red-tailed hawk at Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area.

    Courtesy East Bay Regional Park District

As coal fades, industrial solar and wind energy are filling the gap. But massive solar thermal collectors and wind turbines kill a lot of birds, including federally protected eagles and migratory birds. A researcher estimated that one solar facility alone, Ivanpah near the Southern California-Nevada border, killed up to 30,000 birds in 2014. The industries, however, have been slow to admit the problem (“Green Energy’s Dirty Secret,” HCN, 10/26/15).

Now, the largest planned onshore wind facility in the country has plans to reduce eagle deaths. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study projected Wyoming’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farm would kill 10 to 14 golden eagles each year, down from the 46 to 64 estimated in 2012. Power Company of Wyoming says it will relocate and adjust turbines based on eagle flight-path data. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration again proposed giving wind and other energy industries a 30-year pass on killing or injuring more than 4,000 eagles annually — nearly four times the current limit. Public comment is open through July 5. 

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