Library filed under Impact on Birds from California
Alameda County supervisors approved the initial phase of a monitoring system that will study the impact the Altamont windmills have on scores of birds — including golden eagles, red tail hawks, burrowing owls and other protected species. The board unanimously approved the $610,000, six-month program after hesitating in July to support a $3 million, three-year plan to monitor bird deaths in the Altamont. At that July meeting, supervisors agreed to cap the program — to be paid for by the turbine operators in the Altamont — at $2 million, saying costs for the monitoring had spiraled out of control. The monitoring program will be a collaborative operation of UC Santa Cruz, WEST Inc. and Jones & Stokes, the top three bidders for the project. The group will monitor avian deaths at the 5,400 windmills east of Livermore.
The California Energy Commission will host a two-day workshop in Bakersfield later this month to develop statewide guidelines that protect birds and bats from death or injury from running into the whirling blades of the state’s thousands of windmills. The issue has seen extensive legal action over windmills in the Altamont Pass, which connects the Central Valley to the Bay Area. “Currently, wind projects are handled at the local level; there are no statewide guidelines in place to help reduce the impacts of wind development on birds and bats,” says Energy Commissioner John Geesman.
After balking at a $3 million plan to monitor the impact of the Altamont windmills on scores of birds -- including protected species such as golden eagles, red tail hawks and burrowing owls -- the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a down-sized monitoring plan today. The proposed $600,000 contract, scaled back from a monitoring system proposed in July, calls for 6,000 hours of monitoring in a six-month period and is expected to be only the initial phase in a longer study. The previous plan called for more than 12,000 hours. According to a study released in 2004 by the California Energy Commission, an estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds die each year by flying into whirring turbine blades or being electrocuted by transmission lines that thread through the 50,000-acre Altamont Wind Resource Area.
Windmills have also caused an influx of rats in and around her home, she said, because the turbines are killing the birds and hawks that feast on them. "I have trapped over 100 rats in and around my house in the last year and a half," Manley said. "We celebrate when we see a hawk. We used to see them all the time."
Instead of approving a proposed three-year research program that would track bird deaths and injuries, supervisors Tuesday unanimously agreed to let a newly appointed five-member scientific review committee decide on the parameters of such a program. The supervisors also agreed to cap spending on the program -- which will be funded by Altamont turbine operators -- at $2 million.
Nothing in nature is ever quite that simple.
BAY AREA: Grazing to trim grasses to a level that discourages ground squirrels may cut raptor deaths from wind farms
ALTAMONT PASS: Alameda County hires team of consultants rather than have one do it alone
Modern industrial wind turbines are just giant metal bird-killing guillotines.
Oakland, Calif. – The Alameda County Planning Department is recommending that long-time wind industry paid consultant and advocate WEST, Inc. serve as the so-called “neutral” scientific monitor for avian deaths caused by the Altamont Pass wind turbines, despite a clear and continuing financial conflict of interest.
Olds was afraid that by installing the electricity-generating equipment as a demonstration project at the Marina, the city would be promoting wind turbines, which would send the wrong message to the public. So Olds added a stipulation to which the council agreed: before accepting the Southwest Wind Power turbine, the Golden Gate Audubon Society would have to give its O.K. to the project. It did so on Wednesday, with a caveat—GGAS asked the city to monitor the turbine and to remove it if it killed birds.
Daniel R. Patterson, a desert ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity in Joshua Tree, said it's a "common belief" that bird deaths caused by turbines could lead to rat infestations. But he said he hasn't studied the issue.
Environmentalists in California are taking issue with the way wind power is affecting native bird populations in the area. Citing research by the California Energy Commission (CEC), two groups have launched lawsuits against the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, saying that permits issued for wind turbines do not sufficiently account for the environmental impact of the energy source.
Calling it "our baby," the panel overseeing the Department of Water and Power moved forward Tuesday with the Pine Tree Wind Project, approving a pair of environmental and construction deals related to the $278 million initiative.p The venture has been held up as an example of both the promise and peril associated with the growing use of "green power," which is one of the top priorities of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's new Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
The 5,000 windmills that dot the slopes of Northern California's Altamont Pass are drawing fire from environmental groups who say pollution-free power isn't worth the price of killing thousands of birds.
...some wind power facilities, such as the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) in eastern Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California, are causing severe environmental impacts to raptor populations due to bird kills from collisions with turbines and electrocution on power lines.
Wind turbines in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) provide on average 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of emissions-free electricity annually, enough to power almost 200,000 average households per annum, but these turbines also kill birds that are legally protected, and have been doing so for decades. This five-year research effort focused on better understanding the causes of bird mortality at the world's largest wind farm. Researchers studied 2,548 wind turbines and combined their data with results from 1,526 wind turbines they had studied previously. They sought to: (1) quantify bird use, including characterizing and quantifying perching and flying behaviors of individual birds around wind turbines; (2) evaluate flight behaviors and the environmental and topographic conditions associated with them; (3) identify possible relationships between bird mortality and bird behaviors, wind tower design and operations, landscape attributes, and prey availability; and (4) develop predictive, empirical models that identify turbine or environmental conditions that are associated with high vulnerability. Researchers concluded that bird fatalities at the APWRA result from various attributes of wind turbine configuration and placement, and that species-specific behavior plays a large role in how each contributory factor affects mortality. The report details numerous specific observations. Researchers identified and evaluated possible measures to mitigate bird mortality in the APWRA. They offer recommendations to discontinue or modify some current management actions, to implement new ones immediately, and to experiment with others. Data presented in the report support these recommendations. The results suggest that repowering with carefully placed, modern wind turbines mounted on taller towers may be the preferable means to substantially reduce bird mortality.
Center for Biological Diversity's demand for a jury trial, as plaintiff, vs. FPL Energy et al with respect to bird kills in Altamont Pass in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in California.