Library filed under Impact on Birds from Minnesota
“We respectfully request our permit for the Sibley Wind Project be canceled while we work out a solution that will meet everyone's requirements relating to avian studies on the project,” wrote Steve Estes, president of Star Distributed Energy, in a letter to the state Public Utilities Commission. Star controls Sibley Wind Substation LLC, the project developer.
Flowers noted the turbines will remain inactive throughout the summer while the flight pattern of the eagles continues to be monitored by the state. However, it's possible to curtail more turbines if necessary. Xcel won't know for sure until the fledglings leave the nest, possibly around late October, and if the eagles choose to continue returning to the nest. Around that time, the company may apply for a permit to remove or relocate the nest — known as an Eagle Take Permit — but as of now, it's a waiting game.
In addition to idling the turbines closest to the nest through the summer, Xcel Energy plans to pursue a federal Eagle Take Permit that would protect the utility from liability in the event of an eagle death, according to an April 14 letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
“The fact is that thousands of birds use the specific area where turbines are proposed as a migratory stopover before they move into either the Mississippi River flyway or the Atlantic flyway,” said Barb Wenninger, a Cornish Township resident and longtime opponent of the project. “…I think it is important to have accurate information on avian use before we are faced with the law of unintended consequences.
PUC chair Beverly Heydinger listed several hurdles. It's not clear whether the project's new ownership changes its status as a community-based energy development ...New Era's contract with Xcel Energy to purchase power is in question, as is its construction timeline. Nor is it clear that it can build the project and abide by restrictions to protect eagles that could be required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that between 8 and 14 American bald eagles could be killed annually if New Era Wind Farm is built as currently designed. The outcome of USFWS's eagle mortality models are dramatically higher than one eagle every-other-year as predicted by New Era's consultant Westwood Professional Services.
Bald Eagle Days has typically drawn a couple hundred people, but Ingram says it's unclear what effect the long hiatus and heightened local interest will have on those numbers. Minnesota produces the fifth-most wind energy in the country, but it's also in the top three for nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states.
The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) has learned that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is investigating a report of a dead bald eagle found beneath a wind turbine in southeast Minnesota. The bald eagle was reportedly found over the weekend on a farm near the town of LeRoy.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has postponed a hearing on a plan to limit bird and bat deaths at a controversial wind farm proposed for Goodhue County.
A controversial wind farm proposed near Red Wing plans to ask for federal permission to legally kill eagles, making it one of the first in the nation to participate in a new federal strategy aimed at managing the often-lethal conflict between birds and turbine blades.
To date, there are only five known instances in North America of bald eagles killed by wind turbines, said Rich Davis, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who has been monitoring the project for two years. But the Goodhue project is the first to be constructed in an area widely used by both bald and golden eagles for nesting and migrating, he said.
The conflict between these two opposing environmental goals -- clean energy and protecting wildlife -- is occurring increasingly as wind farms sprout across the nation. There is a growing realization that the massive towers with blades that travel hundreds of miles per hour are killing millions of wandering birds and bats. The concerns are having an effect.
Developers of a new power line in western North Dakota are spending $500,000 to make sure whooping cranes don't run into it. Minnesota Power is building the 22-mile line in Morton and Oliver counties. It's supposed to connect a new 75-megawatt wind farm to the Square Butte electric substation near Center.
Energy advocates are eyeing wind turbines to create electricity along the North Shore. Bird researchers are studying where the migrating birds fly most often. Once they know, they can advise the energy people on areas to avoid. ..."We know we have a globally significant raptor migration route here that [wind turbines] could have a serious impact on if not done correctly,'' Niemi said. "But we also have these hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of passerines [small birds] that come through here at pretty much the same time that most people don't even know about. We have to look out for them, too.''
This document includes studies in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
During a tour last month of Carleton College's 1.65 megawatt turbine in Northfield, Minn., project director Rob Lampa told a group of about 30 Winona County residents that the college had found no evidence of bird or bat kills in the first year of operating the 230-foot turbine ... As the group was leaving, Winona resident Marijo Reinhard pulled County Commissioner Dwayne Voegeli aside. "Look," she said, pointing at the ground, where she had spotted a small, brown bat dead on the gravel; A few feet away, she spotted another, also dead.