Duke Energy Renewables, a commercial business unit of Duke Energy, reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the deaths of golden eagles and other migratory birds at two of Duke Energy's wind energy sites in Wyoming.
The DOJ brought misdemeanor charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for 14 golden eagle mortalities within the past three years at Duke Energy's Top of the World Windpower Project and Campbell Hill Windpower Project near Casper, Wyo.
Golden eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered under U.S. law. However, they are protected under the MBTA.
Federal fines and restitution of $1 million will be levied against Duke Energy Renewables. These funds will be dispersed to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Conservation Fund.
"Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible," said Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. "We deeply regret the impacts to golden eagles at two of our wind facilities. We have always self reported all incidents, and from the time we discovered the first fatality, we've been working closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to take proactive steps to correct the problem."
These steps have included:
· Installing and testing new radar technology to assist in the detection of airborne eagles on or near the site, which was developed from the same technology used in Afghanistan to monitor incoming missiles
· Instituting a curtailment program using field biologists, who radio for turbines to be temporarily shut down upon sighting an eagle in the vicinity
· Further curtailing turbines during periods of high eagle flight activity
· Instituting migratory bird training programs for wind technicians and developing a reporting system to track any findings related to avian populations on the sites
· Removing rock and debris piles that attract eagle prey
· Continuing to voluntarily report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) all eagle and migratory bird mortalities and meeting with the agency regularly to discuss adaptive management measures to reduce avian mortality.