in News Departments > New & Noteworthy
print the content item



San Francisco-based developer Pattern Energy has devised a program that combines cutting-edge technology with a human element in order to mitigate a California wind farm's potential impact on golden eagles.

As part of its pre-construction monitoring studies for the 315 MW Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, Pattern's eagle mitigation program requires that a certified biologist perched on a 50-foot observation tower - with high-powered binoculars in hand - scan the area for signs of golden eagles.

Pattern's $6 million program also involves outfitting the observation tower with an advanced radar system that scans the atmosphere and records the activity. If a golden eagle were to come close to the wind farm, the biologist would record the activity and initiate curtailment.

The biologist, who will remain on-site once the wind farm achieves commercial operation, can communicate curtailment orders to Ocotillo's on-site operations center or to Pattern's Houston-based remote command center, which monitors the company's generating assets.

Although the wind industry has worked hard to mitigate the impacts of wind farms on avian species, the golden eagle, in particular, has been affected in recent years.

Golden eagles receive federal protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). The law prohibits the taking of eagles, including killing, harassing, molesting or disturbing them or their nests. Concerns over civil and criminal liability under BGEPA have proven to be significant obstacles to the development of wind farms and have resulted in numerous stalled or canceled projects.

Of the estimated 30,000 golden eagles in the U.S., nearly two-thirds reside in the western U.S.

The presence of golden eagles at California's Altamont Pass - which uses the now-outdated lattice-style wind towers as perches - has long presented significant challenges for wind farm owners and operators.

"We have taken a progressive view [to eagle mitigation]," John Calaway, Pattern Energy’s director of development, tells NAW. "We have been working at this for several years. The industry is still in a transition period with eagle mitigation. What we're doing is taking extra precautions to mitigate any impacts."

Although the golden eagle is less likely to frequent Pattern's Ocotillo site than the Altamont Pass, it is still a good location to test the program's proof of concept, Calaway says. However, he admits Pattern's approach may not work for everyone.

"Developers with smaller projects may not be able to afford this solution, but we think it's a more surgical approach to eagle mitigation," he notes. “If the testing proves successful, Pattern will use the program in other site locations.”

The company’s eagle mitigation plan will remain in place after the Ocotillo project achieves commercial operation, which is expected by the end of this year.



Trachte Inc._id1770
Latest Top Stories

Canadian Wind Industry Urges For More Federal Support

The Canadian Wind Energy Association says the country's federal government, once a big industry supporter, should again back wind power.


Wind And Solar Helped California Grid During Challenging Summer

According to the California Independent System Operator, the state suffered from heat waves and drought this year, and wind power played a "significant role" in keeping the lights on.


Recapping The Wind Industry's Third-Quarter Deals

Mercom Capital Group recaps investment and merger and acquisition activity during July, August and September.


Yearly Installed Capacity Figures Already Beat 2013 Numbers, More Wind On The Way: AWEA

While the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) lobbies Congress to extend the production tax credit, the association notes wind projects now under construction signal a vibrant 2015.


Yahoo Inks Contract To Buy Kansas Wind Power

The Internet company plans to log in to the Alexander wind project, which is being built by community developer OwnEnergy.

Hybrid Energy Innovations 2015
BG 2015DblBox_id2032
Canwea_id1984
Renewable NRG_id1934