When you combine a newly built Nevada wind farm and the flight path of an endangered golden eagle, it’s only a matter of time before controversy ensues.
It may sound like a lead in to a great joke, but today no one at Patten Energy is laughing thanks to what could potentially be a fine of $200,000 for the death of an eagle on the company’s property.
While the death of the eagle is unfortunate, it is amazing that only one eagle has died when the size and scope of the operation is considered.
The facility covers 7,500 acres and features 66 turbines, with each one towering over 400 feet tall. The golden eagle killed was the first such incident since the wind farm began operations on August 8th of last year.
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Such types of animal deaths cannot be eliminated entirely, as new energy mining operations meld with natural landscapes on an increasing basis. But the company has taken legitimate efforts to minimize damages and disturbances.
In 2010, the developers behind the wind farm spent $500,000 on a study of nearby Rose Cave that is home to over a million Mexican free-tailed bats.
The group also estimated that they anticipated the deaths of 203 birds and 193 bats to be killed each year thanks to the function of the turbines.
Even with all the expense and effort, eagles receive special protection under federal law which includes the fine of up to $200,000.