Huge NextEra windfarm opens for business: Eagle dies

Can't resist a good picture of a threaened eagle:


Turns out that in late January at a huge wind farm near Mojave operated by a company called NextEra, just a month after operations began, an eagle was found dead.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife wasn't too happy about the project from the start, but Kern County approved it anyway. 

In August 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote: “The first full year of fatality monitoring [for the Pine Tree wind project] resulted in an estimated 1,595 fatalities per year, which — per megawatt (11.8 fatalities/megawatt) — is among the highest fatality rates being recorded in the nation . . . It’s reasonable to estimate that the proposed [North Sky River] project would have avian fatality rates equal to or greater than those observed at the adjacent Pine Tree wind facility.”When completed, North Sky River will have the capacity of 297 megawatts, one-tenth the output of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California.

Chris Clarke and Rewire report:

The North Sky River project, on 12,781 acres of private lands northwest of the town of Mojave, will top out at 297 megawatts of power when completed: roughly the same output as a mid-sized gas-fired plant, when the wind is blowing at the right speed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has calculated that the neighboring Pine Tree wind facility, a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power project, caused 11.8 bird fatalities per megawatt in the first year of monitoring; if North Sky River turns out to be of comparable hazard, that's about 3,500 birds per year counting on NextEra's good-faith hazard mitigation. Here's hoping their risk reduction works.

To be honest, I can't pretend to know if thousands of bird deaths are justified by the need for green energy, but in my experience this is an enthralling conflict – despite its brutality.

A drama, despite its lack of humans.

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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