Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Environmental Concerns on Wind Power

Many environmentalists often like to mention wind power as a potential replacement for nuclear generated electricity. But as some residents of Northern California are discovering, wind farms come with their own set of environmental consequences:

Wind farm operators in the Altamont Pass are offering to shut down half of their electricity-producing windmills during the winter to reduce bird deaths and to replace them all with more modern machines within 13 years.

But the proposal, which Alameda County officials will consider Thursday, comes with strings attached. The offer is good only if an environmental group drops its lawsuit over the deaths of thousands of birds.

The Center for Biological Diversity says it won't drop the suit it filed against wind farm operators in November because their plan to reduce bird deaths doesn't go far enough.
According to a report from the California Energy Commission, the wind farm operations "kill 881 to 1,300 birds of prey a year, including as many as 116 federally protected golden eagles." Further . . .
Wind farm operators are willing to shut down only half their turbines each winter and permanently shut down or relocate about 100 turbines that pose the greatest risk to birds. The plan they have put forward to county officials commits to a 35 percent reduction in bird deaths within three years.

If the county places too many conditions on their operations, wind farm operators say they won't be profitable.

"We've gone as far as we can go,"
As we've noted before, nuclear's capacity factor is three times higher than wind. Undoubtedly, this figure would drop even further if you had to shut down half the turbines for almost six months a year.

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