Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year, Old Issue...

Bird strikes in the Altamont Pass are front and center on the San Francisco Chronicle's radar screen again.

The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area is home to some 5,000 wind energy turbines (most owned by FPL) that chop up or electrocute thosuands of birds each year.

Under a settlement reached last year, turbine operators agreed to shut down 300 of the most dangerous windmills and to reduce bird deaths by 50%. The initial report card, however, is not good and activists are calling for additional turbines to be taken out of service and ultimatlely for a wholesale repowering.

Many of the turbines are obsolete and produce only 100 KW-- the newer ones are in the 1-2 MW range. But repowering will cost $1 bilion so there is considerable push-back on the idea.

The best corporate spin on this issue has to come from Rick Koebbe of Altamont Energy, who said, the impact on birds has to be weighed against the human deaths and diseases that are reduced by using wind power instead of pollution-producing fossil fuels.


The turbine operators agreed to take the windmills off line in November and December, but they are balking at extending the shut-down... more on this as it develops.
THE DEADLY TOLL OF WIND POWER [San Francisco Chronicle]