News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

First Wind Turbine Eagle Take Permit May Come To Solano County

Golden eagle in California | Photo: rexboggs5/Flickr/Creative Commons License

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for public comment on a proposal to allow a Solano County wind turbine installation to kill an eagle each year on average over a period of five years, in what may turn out to be the first Programmatic Eagle Take Permit granted to a U.S. wind facility.

Operators of the 100-megawatt Shiloh IV facility between Fairfield and Rio Vista in the Sacramento Delta area have proposed their 50 turbines be allowed to kill or harm the eagles under the "legal take" provisions of the U.S. Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The project owner, EDF Renewables, has proposed an Eagle Conservation Plan for the site that would include some siting and habitat preservation measures. The company is also proposing it buy other eagle habitat for preservation, and retrofit utility poles elsewhere in California that have proven hazardous to eagles.

USFWS is proposing that Shiloh IV retrofit additional power poles, and monitor all the turbines in the project at least monthly. EDF's proposal would have the company check only half its turbines each month for dead eagles.

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Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, it's illegal to "pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb" eagles, as well as their nests and eggs, without the appropriate permit from USFWS.

If the project's Programmatic Eagle Take Permit is approved, USFWS press spokesperson Scott Flaherty told ReWire, Shiloh IV would be the holder of the first such permit granted to a wind turbine operator. More than a dozen facilities have applied for such permits nationwide. Earlier this year ReWire reported that a facility on the Osage Reservation Oklahoma would likely be the first to receive an eagle take permit from USFWS, but tribal opposition to that project has set its schedule back significantly.

If granted, Shiloh IV's eagle take permit would run for five years. USFWS is currently proposing to extend the length of an eagle take permit for wind facilities to 30 years, a move that has angered many environmentalists.

You can read the Draft Environmental Assessment here. Pubic camments are being accepted beginning Friday: email them to ShilohIV_comments@fws.gov or snailmail to Heather Beeler, Migratory Bird Program, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-
2605, Sacramento, CA 95825.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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