Wind turbines threaten condors — or is it vice versa?

Amazing story in Forbes from January, about how a burgeoning wind turbine industry in the Tehachapis may be shut down by the possibility that a wind turbine could kill an endangered California Condor. 

At this point it’s unknown whether the federally protected bird, which can fly some 200 miles in a day, will avoid huge turbine farms or be fatally attracted to the 500-foot-high machines as it scours the landscape for carrion. That creates a great deal of financial and legal uncertainty for wind developers, operators, financiers and utilities.

In other words, will wind farm owners and operators be held criminally liable if a turbine’s spinning blades kill a condor? Will banks and other investors shy away from financing wind projects for fear that the unauthorized “incidental take” – to use the legal language of the federal Endangered Species Act – of a condor could prompt interruptions in electricity production, and thus revenues, or even lead to the shut down of wind farms?

Great question. Will try to follow up from a Ventura County perspective, and work in a discussion of the recently announced new guidelines by the US Fish and Wildlife service for birds and wind turbines. 


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    March 30, 2012