Renewable energy is great, but there are also negative side effects. Duke Energy Renewables announced that it settled with the Department of Justice over the death of 14 golden eagles in the past three years. The eagle deaths and other migratory birds happened at two of Duke Energy’s wind generation sites in Wyoming.
Federal fines and restitution are in the sum of $1 million. These funds will go to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Conservation Fund.
“Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible,” said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. “We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities. We have always self reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, we’ve been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem.”
Duke Energy implemented the following measures to protect birds at their wind mills.
Installing and testing new radar technology to assist in the detection of airborne eagles on or near the site, which was developed from the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missiles
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Instituting a curtailment program using field biologists, who radio for turbines to be temporarily shut down upon sighting an eagle in the vicinity
Further curtailing turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity
Instituting migratory bird training programs for wind technicians and developing a reporting system to track any findings related to avian populations on the sites
Continuing to voluntarily report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) all eagle and migratory bird mortalities and meeting with the agency regularly to discuss adaptive management measures to reduce avian mortality.
“Top of the World and Campbell Hill were some of the first wind sites we brought into service, during a period when our company’s and the wind industry’s understanding of eagle impacts at wind farms was still evolving,” said Tim Hayes, environmental development director at Duke Energy Renewables. “The development of these sites from 2007 to 2009 was before the release of the USFWS wind energy guidelines or its eagle conservation plan guidance.
So let's hope the eagle deaths at wind mills is a thing of the past.