Wind Energy Industry Addresses Bird Mortality Issue

Duke Energy Renewables has taken proactive steps to address the issue of bird mortality at the company’s wind farm generation sites.

The actions, among the first in the wind industry, follow an agreement with the Department of Justice over the deaths of golden eagles at two sites in Wyoming.

The DOJ had filed misdemeanor charges against the company through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that have been settled for fines of $1 million, the funds to be distributed to several conservation and wildlife groups. Duke noted that the two sites in Wyoming were developed in 2007 before the release of US Fish and Wildlife Service wind energy guidelines or its eagle conservation plan.

The mitigating plans now in place include the installation of new radar technology to detect eagles near the site; a program of field biologists who radio for turbines to be shut down on sighting an eagle; the curtailment of turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity; removal of rock and debris piles that attract eagle prey; and meeting regularly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss ways to reduce bird deaths. Upon implementing these measures, the company reports that more than a year has passed without any known golden eagle fatalities at these sites.

Protecting wildlife resources while developing wind energy will be key to a truly sustainable energy future.