April 1 2013
I am usually quite critical of the wind electricity production industry. However, today I almost feel sorry for one wind company in Nevada that will be forced to pay $200,000 for accidentally killing a golden eagle, despite playing by all rules and regulations.
In addition to providing inconsistent energy, wind turbines frequently kill birds. According to the Associated Press, it was estimated that this wind farm would kill an estimated 203 birds and 193 bats each year. Modified electrical lines and a radar system were installed to minimize such risks. Environmentalists actually sued to block the wind farm’s construction to protect birds, and according to the AP, the wind farm settled by paying "$50,000 for a study of nearby Rose Cave, where more than 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost during their fall migration” and expanding its tracking program of bird and bat deaths.
But the golden eagle eluded the precautions, even though the company clearly had gone out of its way to meet environmentalists concerns. Their efforts have been costly, and they will likely be much more so. As required by law, the company turned the eagle in to authorities within 36 hours of the bird’s death. However, the company, which has a 20-year contract to supply energy to Spring Valley, is still subject to the huge fine.
As though government overreach was not already at play enough, the wind company will be subject to even more censure, because it opted not to have a permit that protects wind companies from investigation and potentially from prosecution if birds are killed by turbines, as the permit is not required by law.
This Nevada wind company is an example of the federal government’s soap opera style love affair with wind. Because wind energy is often subsidized with taxpayer money, it distorts energy market and leads to rising electricity costs for all Americans. And as this week proves, it can be hazardous to the environment--at least for birds. When is enough enough?