Articles filed under Impact on Birds from California
Prospects may have dimmed for a major new wind farm 60 miles east of San Diego after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a permit to address fatal collisions between golden eagles and spinning turbines.
Prospects may have dimmed for a major new wind farm in the McCain Valley north of Boulevard after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a permit to address fatal collisions between golden eagles and spinning turbines.
A conservation group and two private landowners are suing the Interior Department and the agency’s Bureau of Indian Affairs for approving the expansion of a California wind farm in alleged violation of environmental laws and despite objections from federal and state wildlife officials who warned of significant impacts to eagles.
In the meantime, according to the lawsuit, when the BLM analyzed risks to eagles from Tule Wind before approving Phase I in 2011, that agency didn't consider the additional risk from the "ridgeline" turbines that would be part of Phase II. That means that the whole-project threat to eagles has apparently never been fully assessed.
More than a month after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it had reports of 15 golden eagles killed at wind farms in the area, the agency has retracted that number and said most of the eagle deaths actually occurred elsewhere in 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 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.
A wind farm in eastern Shasta County was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 339 birds in the first two years after it started generating electricity, according to studies done at Hatchet Ridge.