Impact on Wildlife and North Carolina
Invenergy's announcement of the delay follows about a month [after] a preliminary estimate by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the wind farm could kill about four to 20 bald eagles a year. The preliminary report also noted eight active bald eagle nests in the vicinity of the project area.
The preliminary numbers on bald eagle kills are astronomical by almost any measure, bird advocates say. Based on recorded bald eagle sightings in the area, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the Pantego project would account for 3.4 to 20.7 eagle "takes" annually.
"That's a shocking number."
The N.C. Utilities Commission said Thursday that it had no legal authority to reject the Pantego Wind Energy Facility, which would spread over 11,000 acres in Beaufort County. But the state commission said the wind farm can't move ahead until it receives state and federal environmental permits and meets other strict conditions.
Prospects for a proposed wind energy farm in Eastern North Carolina are likely to remain iffy as long as naturalists and environmentalists have doubts about the project on account of its proximity to a wild bird refuge.
The Albemarle County Planning Commission has thrown out the idea of allowing commercial wind turbines in the county-but it's mulling the idea of smaller wind turbines for individual homeowners. ...the devices are behemoths that are up to 550' tall, dwarfing everything around them.
"As I understand it, where they might be adequate, there would be unacceptable environmental consequences to the surrounding area," says Commissioner Jon Cannon. Fellow Commissioner Marcia Joseph echoed Cannon's feelings on commercial wind turbine creation.
"My main concern is lining the ridgeline with commercial-sized wind turbines," says UVA Environmental Sciences Professor Rick Webb. "I'm concerned about industrial scale development intruding on what remains of wilderness areas we have left."