A wind energy company that was fined a million dollars Friday for the deaths of 14 golden eagles at its Wyoming facilities says it’s making strides to mitigate future bird deaths.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee says Duke has removed rock piles that can attract prey and employs field biologists who send out alerts if turbines need to be shut down. She says they’re also working to install a radar system.
“It’s still under a testing phase, we’re trying to figure out how that will work. But it’s the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missiles,” McGee says.
Duke is the first wind energy company in the nation to be fined for killing eagles. In a statement, the Department of Justice says the company ignored warnings from the Fish and Wildlife Service about the potential for bird deaths when siting its Top of the World and Campbell Hill facilities near Casper.
The fine will be split four ways, with roughly half it going directly to conservation easements and eagle rehabilitation efforts in Wyoming. Duke Energy spokesperson Tammie McGee says the fine is significant but “we feel really good about where the funds are going.”
Duke expects to spend another half a million dollars a year implementing a compliance plan, and will also need to apply for an eagle ‘take’ permit for both sites.
Wyoming wind farms have killed roughly 30 eagles in the last five years, according to a recent study by federal scientists.