Bats, bald eagles thwarting Minnesota wind project

The rejected proposal allowed the wind farm to kill one eagle every three years.

Also note that the wind farm may have been sabotaged by enviros who attracted eagles with roadkill.

The Pioneer Press reports:

Concerns over killing bald eagles and insect-eating bats might have derailed plans for a 78-megawatt wind farm in rural Goodhue County.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday denied a plan submitted by AWA Goodhue Wind Project to monitor and protect the eagles and bats around the proposed 32,700-acre wind farm site in southeast Minnesota.

The project involves building 50 turbines in an area that includes the Mississippi Flyway, a wide corridor used by migrating birds. Its power would be sold to Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy.

Project opponents, organized as the Coalition for Sensible Siting, called it a victory of a cherished national symbol over a project backed by Texas oil and gas billionaire T. Boone

Pickens, who also supports wind power. AWA Goodhue was formed by Mesa Power Group, which Pickens founded…

Christy Brusven, an attorney representing AWA Goodhue, told the commissioners that AWA Goodhue has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a permit that would allow the wind farm to kill no more than about one eagle about every three years.

If approved, it would be the first such permit for bald eagles obtained by a wind farm in the country.

“It is not our intent to have a negative impact on birds and bats in the area, and it certainly is not our intent to kill bald eagles,” she told the commissioners.

But Commissioner J. Dennis O’Brien compared the permit to a duck hunting license, calling it “a license to kill.”

Brusven disagreed, saying turbines might kill eagles, but would not do so on purpose.

“It’s for the risk of a take that’s unavoidable, not that it’s inevitable,” she said…

The developers acknowledged a handful of nests last year, but have suggested that additional eagles may have been attracted to the area by “baiting” with dead livestock or roadkill – a charge that opponents belittled Thursday.

The bat monitors did malfunction but the developers believe they still collected enough information, Brusven said.

Hartman said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is scheduled to visit the area March 16 to confirm four additional eagle nests spotted by residents that have not yet been identified by the DNR.

AWA Goodhue’s protection plan was designed to hide the number of eagles and bats, Hartman said before the hearing.

“They want to sterilize the area to make it hospitable to turbines and not anything else,” she said.

The commission’s denial puts the developers in a bind, Brusven told the board.

The Fish and Wildlife Service wants an approved Avian and Bat Protection Plan before it approves a take permit, she told them.

AWA Goodhue can resubmit another protection plan to the PUC, but it may be fighting the calendar.

If the project cannot start producing power by the end of this year, it will lose the ability to claim a valuable federal production tax credit that expires on Dec. 31 unless extended by Congress.

Kristi Rosenquist, 48, a Zumbrota Township resident who submitted to the commission photos of eagles and their nests on her property, said the denial puts the project’s finances in jeopardy. It may not be finished in time to qualify for the expiring tax credits, she said.

Hartman was less sure.

“We’re not finished until this project is sited appropriately or until it goes away,” she said.

3 thoughts on “Bats, bald eagles thwarting Minnesota wind project”

  1. P.S. I am not a radical environmentalist. Look up the study on how the vibrations of these things hurt animals AND humans.

  2. Journal of Raptor Research:

    Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.

    The research represents one of the first tallies of eagle deaths attributed to the nation’s growing wind energy industry, which has been a pillar of President Obama’s plans to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Wind power releases no air pollution.

    But at a minimum, the scientists wrote, wind farms in 10 states have killed at least 85 eagles since 1997, with most deaths occurring between 2008 and 2012, as the industry was greatly expanding. Most deaths — 79 — were golden eagles that struck wind turbines. One of the eagles counted in the study was electrocuted by a power line.

    The vice president of the American Bird Conservancy, Mike Parr, said the tally was “an alarming and concerning finding.”

  3. T. Boone Pickens, infamous corporate raider, only became interested in wind farms when the government started throwing billion$ at ‘green’ energy and ‘sustainability’ projects. He made his pile buying marginally profitable companies, gutting the high paying staff, and waiting for the payroll cuts to reach the bottom line. As soon as the annual statement showed huge profits he would put the company up for sale and unload it on some poor fool who didn’t realized the functional staff had been terrorized into overworking continually for a year for fear of losing their own jobs. When the ‘patsy’ took over, the staff would relax, productivity would drop, and the profits would disappear, along with Pickens.
    His new business model is apparently to be first in line when the government fill the trough with ‘incentives; and subsidies, only to disappear as before when the trough goes dry. Because his ‘anchor company’, Mesa. Inc, is an energy company, with access to oil and gas leases, he is milking the wind energy cow to death.
    http://www.mesainc.com/markets_powerGeneration.htm lists the Power Generations interests as “Fossil, Hydro, Nuclear, and Wind” – in that order.

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