November 23, 2013 | Eyder Peralta | The Two-Way, NPR
In a settlement reached with the Department of Justice, Duke Energy Renewables pleaded guilty in the deaths of 14 golden eagles and 149 other migratory birds at two of its wind energy facilities in Wyoming.
“We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities,” Duke Energy President Greg Wolf said in a statement. “We have always self reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, we’ve been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem.”
The AP reports that more enforcement could follow:
” ‘Wind energy is not green if it is killing hundreds of thousands of birds,’ said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, which supports properly sited wind farms. ‘The unfortunate reality is that the flagrant violations of the law seen in this case are widespread.’
“There could be more enforcement. The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating 18 bird-death cases involving wind-power facilities, and about a half-dozen have been referred to the Justice Department.
“Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes. Eagles are especially vulnerable because they don’t look up as they scan the ground for food, failing to notice the blades until it’s too late.”