Rocky Mountain Power is building a new tower at the Seven Mile Hill Wind Farm in Carbon County, in order to observe bird activity near the farm’s 79 turbines.

Margaret Oler is a spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power. She says the tower will be 30 feet tall with a structure at the top for researchers to watch for birds – specifically eagles.

"It will also be equipped with the equipment that the observers will need in order to, in real time, to shut down a turbine if bird activity in the area picks up," says Oler.

Chuck Abbe / Wikimedia Commons

The utility giant PacifiCorp has agreed to a $2.5 million dollar settlement over bird deaths at two of its wind farms in Wyoming.

PacifiCorp pleaded guilty to killing more than 300 birds, including 38 golden eagles. The Department of Justice says the company knew that its turbine siting at the farms outside of Glenrock would result in bird deaths. PacifiCorp spokesman David Eskelsen says the company disputes that characterization, but not the fine. 

“The law is the law and we’re committed to abide by the regulations,”  he said. 

Over the objections of environmental groups, the federal government agreed Friday to issue eagle-take permits to wind companies for 30 years, instead of five. The permits allow companies to kill a certain number of eagles without penalty, while requiring additional mitigation and conservation measures.

Industry lobbied for the change, saying that the short permits left too much uncertainty when planning major projects.