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Overcoming Wind Energy’s Biggest Obstacle

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The Eagle Has Landed … On a Wind Turbine

The Eagle Has Landed … On a Wind Turbine

At least 85 Eagles have died in collisions with wind turbines since 1997, and the specter of the biggest US wind farm yet, planned for the state of Texas, where everything is big, lends new meaning to the phrase, “the eagle has landed.”

With Texas now joining the ranks of US wind-farm giants and the federal government mulling an extension of “casualty” permits for birds caught up in the climate-saving turbines, Americans may have to choose an alternative fowl for their national symbol.

On Tuesday, Dallas-based Tri Global Energy announced plans to build a 1,100-megawatt, 650-turbine wind farm near Lubbock. It would be the largest wind farm in the US, and one of the largest in the world.

Related article: Wind Energy Spreading Beyond Europe

In the case of wind farms, bigger usually is better—except for the birds. The larger the wind farm--geographically speaking--the better the odds of catching the wind.

Partnering with Tri Global are Lakeview Wind Farms and East Mount Renewable Energy Project. The project involves more than 122,000 acres of land in Hale Country and more than 340 Texas Panhandle landowners.

Essentially, it’s an expansion of four smaller wind projects that also includes the Hale County Wind Far and the CottonWind Farms.

The first 200 megawatts of the project are expected to come online in late 2015 with the rest of the capacity operational by mid-2018, a spokeswoman for Tri Global said. The project will have a total potential capacity to generate 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy.

“It’s not something that will be around for just 10 years. Wind farms will be a permanent fixture that will go on for several generations,” Tri Global senior vice president Curtis King said in a statement.

Related article: Good News for Wind Turbine Manufacturers

What does this mean for the birds? According to some, it risks endangerment.

A study released earlier this month by US Fish and Wildlife researchers shows that at least 85 golden and bald eagles have died so far in wind farm accidents since 1997 in 10 states—67 of those in the past five years alone--and they are concerned that the federal government is now considering a rule that that would extend casualty permits for eagles killed by wind turbines. The rule change could mean that these permits will be extended up to30 years and they would no longer have to renew them every five years.

 “Having a five-year permit, particularly one with language that there was no guarantee for renewal, had a chilling effect on long-term financing,” John Anderson, director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Michelle Spaul on October 01 2013 said:
    I believe the design flaws at Altamont Pass are well understood and avoided by other wind farm designers. The Erickson (2005) study shows that wind farms account for 1 in 10,000 anthropogenic bird deaths - about the same as air craft and a lot less than pesticides, vehicles, cats, power lines and buildings.

    What are the investment risks for those assets?
  • Sev on October 01 2013 said:
    We run over more eagles with vehicles in a year than have been killed by turbines since 1997. Eagles are notorious for feasting on roadkill, and unlike most other scavengers, are unable to quickly evade approaching vehicles.
  • Jay on October 01 2013 said:
    A license to kill endangered birds. How green is that? You gotta love people making excuses for the eagle killers.
  • Tomaz Ogrin on October 02 2013 said:
    Do cats eat eagles? Or vice versa?
    To summarise: should mankind add another machine to kill birds of prey? They are endangered not small ones.
    It is not clear why mankind need wind farms. Up to now without effect, only huge expenses. It is known from physics that from a medium with so low density
    as air you cannot get much power. Besides wind is a chaotic phenomenon and will always be. Cheers!
  • Jim Wiegand on October 02 2013 said:
    The latest news story about 85 eagles killed at wind farms does not even begin to discuss the magnitude of the turbine eagle kill problem or the exploding numbers of bald eagles that will be killed in the years ahead. At just Altamont Pass 126 dead eagles were picked up between 2005 and 2010 from turbine searches 36 days apart. The total estimated number killed is between 3-10 times that many because they never find them all.

    The industry would be happy as can be if the ignorant public would believe that about 85 eagles had died in the last 5 years, as the article suggests. Over 85 eagles a year die at California Wind farms the 5 year total for the US is likely over 1000.
    Hundreds if not thousands of eagles have perished in Texas over the years but no one has heard a word because of FWS "Voluntary Regulations" and the locked gates of wind farms on private land. Over the years several thousand eagles have died at Altamont and the industry expects the idiots of the world to believe this is an aberration.

    When people support the wind industry they support an industry built on fraud, the slaughter of protected species, and hiding these terrible impacts. The Wolfe Island studies were rigged and hid somewhere close to 98% of the mortality from their turbines. This same pattern is taking place all over North America.

    The bald eagle killed by a wind turbine (PHOTO OF BALD EAGLE KILLED BY A WIND TURBINE CAN BE SEEN ON YAHOO NEWS) is over well over 400 meters yards from the turbines and this disgusting industry does not count these bodies in their mortality studies because it is outside their tiny designated search areas. This is typical of the wind industry's fraud that has been going on since the early 1980's.

    Now that there is definitive proof that America's wind turbines kill bald eagles, I want to point out a bogus story (April 2012) about a large number of bald eagles killed in the vicinity of wind farms in Texas. The official story was that these eagles died because of collisions with power lines.(www.outdoorhub.com).

    Over the years I have watched bald eagles (including their young) hunting around power lines. They see them very easily and maneuver around them with ease. What they do not see easily and can not avoid are wind turbine blade tips coming at them at 200 mph.

    In the near future hundreds of Bald eagles will be killed by the wind industry as their projects move into the wetlands of America. But the industry will lie about this impact as they peddle their deadly projects to the ignorant taxpayers

    Virtually every one of the industry's mortality studies is rigged to hide the majority of the birds and bats that are killed. The industry has been rigging these studies for over 20 years and our protected species are being slaughtered off from turbines with a mortality footprint of thousands of miles. This is what I am trying to get across to the public because the extinction of species that is coming from these turbines.
  • Jim Wiegand on October 02 2013 said:
    Everyone should do some research. Texas has a history of slaughtering thousands of eagles.
  • James Westhoffer on October 03 2013 said:
    Wind is useless and unreliable. To kill eagles and make people sick in addition to being a waste of money, makes promoters of wind power the enemy of normal society. But they have political connections at the highest levels.

    What to do, what to do.
  • MrColdWaterOfRealityMan on October 03 2013 said:
    There's a new fangled technology to prevent this sort of thing from happening. It's called "screens."
  • John Anderson on October 03 2013 said:
    No energy source – or really any human activity for that matter – is completely is completely free of impacts. But generating electricity from wind does not create air or water pollution, greenhouse gases, use water, require mining, drilling or transportation of fuel, or generate hazardous waste requiring permanent storage. As a result, wind power represents the lowest impact form of utility-scale energy generation available to our society today – and in turn is the most beneficial to wildlife, including eagles. Further, as noted in a recent study by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions poses the single greatest threat to wildlife populations, including eagles, and their habitats, and rapid deployment of emissions-free wind energy is the key to saving these species.

    That said, no one takes wildlife impacts more seriously than the wind industry, and while it is an unfortunate reality that some eagles occasionally collide with turbines at some wind farms, this is not a common occurrence. In fact, fatalities of golden eagles at modern wind facilities represent less than 2 percent of all documented sources of human-caused eagle fatalities, and in the history of the industry, only a few bald eagles have died in collisions with turbines. Yet the wind industry currently does more to reduce its impacts to eagles than any of the other, far larger, sources of eagle fatalities known by wildlife experts, and we are striving to reduce these impacts even further.

    To that end, unlike our competitors, prior to even siting a turbine, developers undertake extensive, often multi-year surveys to assess use of sites, analyze the risk, and then design the facilities to avoid the impacts. Beyond avoidance, the project developers work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other stakeholders throughout the development process to identify means of minimizing and mitigating for the impacts.

    In order to have a functioning society, we need to have electricity to power our homes, schools, and businesses. Responsibly meeting our modern society’s energy demands requires a careful cost-benefit analysis. When all variables are considered, wind energy is the right choice.

    John Anderson
    Director of Siting Policy
    American Wind Energy Association

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