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.
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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.
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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