Bald Eagles Stall Minnesota Wind Farm

State permitting of a 78-megawatt (MW) capacity wind power plant in Goodhue County, Minn., is on hold after the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 2-1 on Thursday to deny approval of the avian and bat protection plan (ABPP) submitted by the developer. Opponents of the project have argued that the spinning wind turbines would put bald eagles at risk.

In a statement [PDF], the commission said that “after reviewing the record relating to the proposed plan, including agency comments and public testimony, the commissioners raised several concerns about the adequacy of the information in the ABPP presented by AWA Goodhue, LLC.”

Minnesota wind power bald eagle goodhue

image via Shutterstock

Midwest Energy News reported earlier this week that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) “had raised a long list of questions and complaints last month about AWA Goodhue’s original protection plan document.” In a letter, the agency said the developer had submitted bat survey data that was misleading and said a DNR employee had spotted an adult eagle sitting in a nest that in the developer’s study was said to be inactive. The agency also “criticized AWA Goodhue’s claim that it couldn’t predict the collision risk for bald eagles because of alleged ‘eagle baiting’ by the project’s opponents,” Midwest Energy News reported.

In its statement, the Minnesota PUC said the wind plant developers were welcome to “resubmit a new plan once the inadequacies identified by the commission have been addressed.” In addition to needing state permitting on the avian and bat protection issue, Midwest Energy News reported the developer “has agreed to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on an ‘incidental take permit’ for bald eagles, a potentially lengthy process.

According to the PUC, Goodhue Wind would consist of 50-turbine in an area of approximately 32,700 acres just west of the city of Goodhue in the townships of Belle Creek, Goodhue, Minneola, Vasa, and Zumbrota. Energy produced by the facility is anticipated to be sold to Xcel Energy.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

2 Comments

  • Reply February 27, 2012

    Josephsymons

    Vertical shaft turbines don’t endanger wildlife, but big business doesn’t have a profit stream set up yet.

  • Reply February 29, 2012

    Mary

    Propeller style turbines are deadly to birds and bats.  Large birds are struck by the deceptively fast moving blades.   Bats die from barotrauma: their lungs explode and bones in their wings break due to the pressure change from the spinning blades.  While there is no question that this country needs to do something about it’s over-consumption of oil, over-consumption of critical species of animal (bats) is hardly a solution.  The truth about the inefficient, expensive, unsustainable sector called “wind” is found by googling articles from Europe.  Bad news!  Wind kills jobs and undermines economies.  

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