Articles filed under Impact on Birds from California

Another meteorological tower for Westfield

Peter Gross of Babcock and Brown presented a request for a permit to put up another meteorological tower in the town of Westfield. According to Gross, after the public meetings about the possibility of wind farms in the Westfield-Ripley area, several families approached him about how they could become involved in the project. "They came to us which started us looking at the possibilities in that area," Gross said. "We won't know for sure until we have the readings from the met tower but we're proceeding with hopeful caution."
9 Mar 2008

Windmills increase raptor deaths; Eagles, owls, migratory songbirds caught in blades

Long before wind turbines sprouted on Altamont Pass, it was home to the highest density of golden eagles in the world and their major breeding area in the United States. Almost as soon as the first turbine started rotating, the bird carcasses started piling up: Golden eagles, burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks, other raptors, western meadowlarks and migrating songbirds. ...On Feb. 12, an interim report on raptor mortality during 2005-2007 was released. Instead of a reduction in raptor mortality, the study found deaths had risen except for that among golden eagles, which had fallen to the sustainable level of 49 deaths per year. Burrowing owl mortality suffered the greatest increase - more than 300 percent - and the overall raptor deaths almost doubled.
6 Mar 2008

Nest threatens power line's replacement

As the Santa Clarita Valley continues to grow and expand, there is a concern and movement to sustain growth without exhausting natural resources. Finding ways to balance growth with the environment has come to a crossroads. That crossroads can be found in Saugus, where a proposed renewable energy project may threaten the nesting grounds of federally-protected Red-tailed hawks. ...The new renewable power lines through Saugus would end at the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area in Kern County, which is a wind farm that will allow Edison to keep up with demands for renewable power. Yet Manwaring said she has no problem with Edison's renewable energy plan. She just wants to be sure the hawks are protected until they are done nursing.
29 Feb 2008

Scientists recommend stronger action to decrease bird kills

After years of trying to get wind farm operators to act voluntarily to reduce bird deaths at the Altamont Pass, California wind farm, environmental groups have filed multiple lawsuits in an effort to change the way the plant operates. ..."We are deeply concerned that we haven't seen a reduction in bird deaths, and concerned as well that certain terms of the settlement were apparently not fully implemented on the agreed-upon timeline," said Elizabeth Murdock.
19 Feb 2008

VVC windmill could pose threat to birds; Environmentalists labels wind turbines as bird blenders

As the Victor Valley College board of trustees gears up to consider erecting a 314-foot wind turbine, the project may face some unlikely opponents: birds and bats living in the nearby Mojave River bottom. ...A new study on a northern California wind farm at Altamont Pass shows that efforts have failed to protect birds from wind turbine blades which some environmentalists have dubbed "bird blenders," according to Environment & Climate News.
18 Feb 2008

Altamont Pass Settlement Fails to Reduce Bird Kills

A January 2007 settlement agreement intended to reduce the number of bird deaths from wind turbines at Altamont Pass, California is failing, scientists report. As a result, environmental groups are calling for additional restrictions on wind power generation at the nation's largest wind farm. ...Many of the affected bird species are protected by state and federal laws. Some of the birds killed are protected by federal laws so stringent they do not allow the taking or killing of even a single member of the species. Wind farm critics say the failure to enforce federal wildlife protection laws in the Altamont wind farm case is a result of environmentalists' pressure for wind power.
18 Feb 2008

Despite efforts, Altamont bird toll rising

The Altamont wind farms saw an apparent increase in bird deaths last year in spite of efforts to reduce the bird kills, according to a new report. Bird-carcass surveys at about half of the nearly 5,000 Altamont wind turbines found a striking jump in deaths among many species in the year ending last September over the previous year. The report - produced by a consortium of consultants who are coordinated by Brian Latta of the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group - cautioned that the results are preliminary and that the cause of the increase in bird deaths is not known. The number of bird deaths does not appear to be decreasing despite measures to reduce the deaths, the report said. Those efforts include shutting down all the turbines for two months in the winter and a not-yet fully-accomplished process of relocating or permanently shutting down the windmills suspected of causing the most deaths.
2 Feb 2008

Audubon Society requests study on danger to birds

A green power project proposed for the north state has drawn questions and concerns from nature lovers about how many birds it could kill. In comments on the Hatchet Ridge Wind Project's draft environmental impact report filed last week, the Wintu Audubon Society asks for additional studies on the effect that 44 turbines would have on migrating birds. Of the 16 comments received as of Friday afternoon, a quarter touched on that issue, said Bill Walker, senior planner for Shasta County. The EIR estimated that the turbines proposed for a ridge near Burney would kill a bald eagle every two to three years, as well as about seven birds a year. "It would be a significant impact," Walker said.
27 Jan 2008

Committee suspects little progress in reducing Altamont bird deaths

A scientific review committee monitoring avian death rates in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area has concerns about progress being made to reduce them -- although a report confirming those concerns likely will not be out until next month. Alameda County's Scientific Review Committee -- a five-member panel that advises the county on progress being made to mitigate bird deaths in the Altamont Pass windmill area -- concluded late last year measures taken by wind companies in the area have not done enough to reach a 50-percent reduction in raptor deaths by November 2009. ..."It's alarming to hear they're not going to make the proposed reduction," said Elizabeth Murdock, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, a plaintiff in the 2006 lawsuit that led to the settlement. "They're saying they've made a zero to negligible reduction in the mortality rate out there."
25 Jan 2008

Hearing to settle turbine dispute

The safety (for birds) of the Altamont wind turbine farm is at issue during a meeting today. A judge will meet today with environmental groups, wind energy businesses and Alameda County officials to determine what must happen next to protect birds of prey from wind turbines in the Altamont Pass. Californians for Renewable Energy claims that wind power companies have not complied with the conditions of permits that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved in September 2005. ...Peter Weiner, an attorney who represents some of the power companies, said the companies' position is that they have complied.
17 Jan 2008

Altamont Pass turbines still killing birds of prey

Environmentally friendly efforts aren't so kind to each other in the rolling hills of the Altamont Pass. For years, whirling rotors on some of the 5,000-plus wind turbines that line the pass have minced and otherwise killed thousands of golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and other birds of prey at a rate alarming to groups on a mission to protect them. ...Now a year into the settlement agreement, there has been little progress in reducing bird deaths to levels called for in the settlement. The Golden Gate Audubon Society, a party to the lawsuit that triggered the settlement, backs scientists' recommendation that hundreds more turbines need to be relocated and the shutdown extended in order to reach the reduction mark.
12 Jan 2008

The deadly toll of wind power

[T]he Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area is also a symbol of the wind industry's biggest stain - the killings of thousands of birds, including majestic golden eagles, by turbines. The result has been a wrenching civil war among those who are otherwise united in the struggle to save the planet and its creatures. It's been nearly a year since a controversial legal settlement was forged among wildlife groups, wind companies and Alameda County regulators. That agreement, opposed by some parties to the dispute, promised to reduce deaths of golden eagles and three other raptor species by 50 percent in three years and called for the shutdown or relocation of the 300 or so most lethal of the approximately 5,000 windmills at Altamont. But five scientists appointed by the county say the settlement and accompanying efforts to reduce bird deaths are not on track to meet the 50 percent goal ..."We are deeply distressed about the continuing bird deaths and about the companies not being on track for the 50 percent reduction," said Elizabeth Murdock, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, a chief plaintiff in the lawsuit that has reshaped the battle over the birds.
2 Jan 2008

San Rafael wind turbine maker wins financial backing

A San Rafael wind turbine maker has secured financial backing to establish manufacturing operations with the help of a "significant" investment from Goldman Sachs & Co., one of the world's largest investment banks, the company announced Monday. Formed about three years ago, Nordic Windpower Inc. is preparing to start domestic production of its two-bladed, utility-scale wind turbines for sale to small and large energy producers.
1 Oct 2007

California grapples with windmills vs. birds issue

The California Energy Commission voted 3-0 Wednesday to approve voluntary guidelines to help reduce bird and bat deaths at wind turbines. The guidelines are meant to protect wildlife as the state moves to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Bird kills by the whirling blades have been the subject of lawsuits and injunctions in recent years.
27 Sep 2007

Lompoc Wind Farm Could Break Ground this Spring

"Their bird studies were like trying to determine how many kids would go to a school by driving by during Easter vacation," she said. Taaffe named the California condor, long-eared owl, horned lark, and golden eagle as species at risk. "The blades move at 200 miles per hour at the tip ... Each blade is replaced within a second. That's not terribly slow." At the DEIR hearing, Audubon California board of directors member Steve Ferry asserted that bird surveys were conducted on only five days and during the afternoon, when birds are least likely to be present. He said the draft neglected mitigation measures such as radar, which could track avian traffic and shut down turbines as needed. "We know birds will be killed," Drude acknowledged of the biological impacts.
6 Sep 2007

Tilting at Windmills

After years of lawsuits, a settlement was finally reached early this year to try to reduce bird kills at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in Alameda County. But critics charge that the new agreement makes an already bad situation even worse...........The avian mortality problem at Altamont illustrates the complex nature of energy production-even "good" sources such as wind have impacts. Smallwood is "aghast that our natural resource agencies-federal and state-allow the companies to do this when as an individual I can get a shotgun and shoot a golden eagle, but I'd go to jail."
24 Aug 2007

Wind-power project gains strength

Visual impact will result from the proximity of the wind turbines to Jalama Beach County Park and that of an accompanying new power line to Highway 1. The power line could be hidden by use of an overland route to the PG&E substation in Lompoc, but the turbines will be visible from Jalama unless the project is limited to 50 turbines. Also unavoidable will be the destruction of birds and bats killed in collisions with turbine blades. That's what troubles the Audubon Society, the only organized group to raise significant questions about the project. "We are not totally against it," said Tamarah Taaffe, treasurer of the La Purisima chapter of Audubon. "We just want it placed optimally. On any wind farm, placement is the most important thing. Our basic goal was to support it and work with them on placement." Taaffe added, however, that she considered the county's avian studies inadequate. "Their bird studies were like trying to determine how many kids would go to a school by driving by during Easter vacation," she said. Taafe enumerated the long-eared owl, the horned lark and the golden eagle as species at risk. "The blades move at 200 mph at the tip. It looks kind of lazy but they are so massive. Each blade is replaced within a second. That's not terribly slow." The EIR document acknowledges inevitable damage. "We know birds will be killed," said Drude, a county energy specialist. "So we're going to assume the worst. Since we don't know the number, we'll adapt to it. We're suggesting ‘adaptive mitigation.' If there are turbines which are more dangerous (than others) they could be shut down at certain hours or seasons."
19 Aug 2007

Wind farms urged to go easy on birds and bats

Ducks in the Dakotas, tanagers in Texas and grosbeaks along the Gulf of Mexico could all be hit by the rapid growth of wind power unless the renewable electricity farms are carefully sited, experts said. "The first three rules of avoiding impacts with wind turbines are always going to be location, location, location," Mike Daulton, a spokesman with the National Audubon Society, said in a telephone interview. Clean-energy wind farms are cropping up rapidly in the United States on rising concerns about greenhouse gas carbon dioxide emissions and flat output of natural gas, which fires most of the power plants built since the 1990s. U.S. wind power is expected to increase by 26 percent in installed generation this year, after similar growth last year. A study by the National Academy of Sciences released late this week found that wind energy could reduce the energy sector's carbon dioxide emissions by 4.5 percent by 2020. But federal and state governments should take environmental impacts of wind energy more seriously as part of the planning, locating and regulating turbines, it said.
4 May 2007
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