Library filed under Impact on Birds from California
In 2012, the county reports that turbine blades killed 40. Other years were worse, with as many as 70 killed in a year. And that doesn’t county eagles that may have been wounded, but wandered away couldn’t be found. No matter the numbers, by law this should not be happening
The US Fish and Wildlife Service denied Iberdrola's request for an eagle take permit. The rejection letter is provided below and can be accessed by clicking the link on this page. Iberdrola's application was one of the first to seek a 30-year term on the permit. In addition to the FWS letter, you can also view Iberdrola's cover letter submitted with its permit application where the company cites its interest in a long-term permit.
The permitting system relies on wind energy companies and other parties to be forthcoming about how many dead birds they find on their property. Critics say that system effectively can encourage companies to infrequently monitor and look the other way. "My question is why should anybody tell the government that they're killing federally protected birds?" Hutchins said in a telephone interview from Washington.
The Obama administration today announced approval of the first-ever permit for a wind farm to legally kill or harm protected eagles under a plan that officials say will have no overall harm on eagle populations. ...Shiloh IV Wind Project LLC a five-year permit to "take" up to five eagles at its 50-turbine wind farm north of San Francisco.
USFWS’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory studied three solar farms in Southern California: Desert Sunlight, Genesis Solar and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). Two-hundred and thirty-three different birds from 71 species were found over the course of a two-year study.
A state inventory of California’ rarest animals, birds and plants reveals that Golden Eagle populations have suffered a precipitous decline statewide, including here in San Diego County. Statewide, only 141 element occurrences (eagle nests and foraging habitat) are listed in all of California. Locally, the inventory lists just 14 “occurrences” countywide—with only one (probably abandoned) nest remaining in East County.
This history of golden eagle nesting failures located near wind turbines in CA is never clearly stated, but the evidence is there for anyone that wishes to read about it. Some of this impact is revealed in the last Environmental Impact documents submitted for the expansion of the Shiloh wind turbines project in California's Montezuma Hills Wind Resource Area.
“We support the Justice Department’s vigilance in prosecuting Bittner for his serious transgressions and unlawful behavior,” said Tisdale, who has long contended that there are eagles in areas slated for wind turbines, where Bittner claims there are none. ““When unethical and basically corrupt experts like Bittner side with industry over avian protection,” Tisdale concluded, “our beautiful birds literally get clobbered with the blunt end of the turbine blade.”
If the 40 turbines in the first phase turn out not to yield important reductions in bird deaths, especially for golden eagles, the county should reduce the numbers of turbines allowed for Ogin in the remainder of the Altamont. He suggested an 80 percent reduction from the 320 or so old turbines, instead of the approximately 1:1 ratio now in the wings for Sand Hill.
“Had SDG&E been aware of the truth, it very likely would not have entered into contracts involving hundreds of millions of dollars,” SDG&E’s suit states. The San Diego utility may be leery of the Montana project’s impacts on golden eagles following its own violations while building another major construction effort.
December's preliminary thumbs-down by the CEC, which came in the form of a 1,021-page Presiding Member's Proposed Decision (PMPD), changed all that. The PMPD cited the mounting but still incomplete evidence that Palen's design -- similar to but on a greater scale than BrightSource's Ivanpah project, now nearing completion -- poses a serious risk to flying wildlife from its concentrated solar radiation of "solar flux."
The recommendation acknowledges that "currently there is insufficient scientifically deduced information about actual avian impacts from power tower solar flux. ...other evidence in the record about avian species mortality from solar flux, including preliminary compliance monitoring information from the Ivanpah project, convinces us that the benefits of the [Palen] modified project do not outweigh its significant adverse environmental effects."
“The committee finds that the amended project will also result in significant and unmitigable impacts to biological resources due to the risk of solar flux on avian species. The committee recommends denying the project amendment at this time, finding that the totality of the project impacts outweighs the totality of the project benefits.”
Even without San Gorgonio, the authors found mortality rates for monopole turbines in California leading the nation, averaging 108,715 per year, compared to 22,177 per year for the rest of the western states. Breaking it down to bird deaths per turbine, California is again the highest, with 7.85 per turbine ...If you want to put it in terms of megawatts, in California, we’re losing about 18.76 birds per megawatt of wind power produced.
Despite numerous calls for an increase in the transparent reporting of study results and availability of reports to the public and scientists, collision data largely remains confidential and/or offline. Furthermore, reports that have been released to the public (e.g. on the internet) are often difficult to locate. We join previous authors in calling for increased transparency in data reporting. Requiring industry reports to be made publicly available would greatly improve understanding of wind energy impacts to wildlife.
The report, which will now go through a 45-day public comment period, analyzed four alternatives, including the possibility of denying the permit application. In addition to retrofitting the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power poles, Shiloh, which is an affiliate of EDF Renewable Development, has agreed to use audio or visual deterrence measures to scare away eagles, migratory birds and bats.
For a long time, the wind industry operated pretty much with impunity when it came to its impact on golden eagles and other birds. Those days could be coming to an end. ...with wind’s big expansion during the Obama presidency and under pressure from conservation groups, the Fish and Wildlife Service has been pressuring the wind industry to get permits to “take” eagles.
A member of California's fastest-flying bird species was found mortally injured at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert two weeks ago, ReWire has learned. Found on the site still alive, the bird was shipped to a rehabilitation facility by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) but subsequently died of its injuries.
The apparent uptick in Californian eagle deaths is cause for significant concern. For more than a decade after 1997, the year of the first records examined by the authors, verifiable eagle mortalities from Californian wind facilities other than Altamont stayed between zero and two annually, with a peak of three eagles confirmed killed in 2002. And then, in 2011, that number more than doubled with six confirmed deaths, and then four more in just the first half of 2012. ...Wyoming's eagle kills have shot up even more dramatically, with all 31 taking pace in the years since 2009 -- 24 in 2010 and 2011 alone.
Boulevard activist Donna Tisdale, who works with the Protect our Communities Foundation among other local groups, was blunt in her assessment of Bittner's legacy. In an interview with the local publication East County Magazine , which has been following the Bittner story closely, Tisdale blasted Bittner. "Now we know why Bittner was the go-to-guy for the industry. His services, and whatever ethics or integrity he might have once had, were literally 'for sale' to the highest bidder."