SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA – Would Joe Biden be brave enough to call wind turbines “eagle-killing energy” instead of the pleasant-sounding “green energy” pushed by those who want to shut down the fossil fuel industry? Not likely.
But the very symbol of the United States of America is being slaughtered by the massive blades of wind turbines spinning at up to 190 miles per hour. Other migratory birds are being killed by the millions, as well.
There are opponents of this particular energy-producing industry and they have just won a small victory against a major violator of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
NextEra Energy, a subsidiary of ESI Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, took a plea deal admitting guilt to violating the act and of killing 150 eagles at wind-energy facilities in eight states.
The company was ordered to pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution for violations at wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico and acknowledge deaths of bald eagles and golden eagles at 50 other wind farms since 2012.
The company was also sentenced to five years probation during a court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
ESI agreed to spend up to $27 million during its probation on measures to prevent future eagle deaths, including shutting down turbines at times when eagles are more likely to be present.
Despite those measures, wildlife officials expect some eagles will still die. When that happens, the company will pay $29,623 per dead eagle under the plea deal.
Company officials were spared prison sentences, making fines and restitution simply the cost of doing business for the energy giant.
The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources division prosecuted the company. The department’s Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim said:
“For more than a decade, ESI has violated laws, taking eagles without obtaining or even seeking the necessary permit.”
Charging documents said company officials, including ESI President Rebecca Kujawa, were warned that eagles would be killed if the company built two wind farms in central and southeastern Wyoming and when repowering a New Mexico wind farm about 170 miles from Albuquerque.
Despite repeated warnings, the company proceeded and ignored further advice from federal wildlife officials about methods to minimize the deaths, court documents show.
This wind energy company was fined $8 million for the death of over 150 bald eagles. ESI Energy Services Inc. pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and will pay millions for eagle preservation efforts.https://t.co/YnenRWeNi8
— Andrew Bostom, MD, MS (@andrewbostom) April 8, 2022
NextEra calls itself the world’s largest utility company by market value. It has more than 100 wind farms in the United States and Canada and also generates natural gas, nuclear and solar power.
The criminal case comes in stark contrast to the relentless push by President Biden for more energy from wind, solar and other sources while shutting down the oil and natural gas industries.
Advocates fear San Diego’s small number of eagles could be devastated as more wind projects gain approval.
Several wind energy companies that have built or hope to build wind projects in San Diego’s East County have relied on the industry-partisan surveys of the late David Bitner, which concluded such projects would not threaten eagles.
Bitner was paid by the wind-energy companies and after his studies were used by energy companies to get their plans approved, he was convicted in federal court of mishandling protected birds. In addition, he operated without licenses for years, refused to turn over tracking data on protected species to federal wildlife officials, and was found to have four freezers full of illegally kept dead birds.
Donna Tisdale, chairwoman of the Boulevard Planning Group, has been battling wind farms locally for years. She said of NextEra’s guilty plea:
“The death toll of eagles, raptors, songbirds and bats from massive wind turbines is a sad commentary on the forced transition to allegedly clean wind and solar. Turbine blades can churn at 120-190 mph. That death toll can only increase with the planned decarbonization/climate change goals that will require quadrupling the installation rate of industrial wind and solar projects in California and the nation.”
Tisdale noted in an interview with East County Magazine that San Diego County’s Regional Decarbonization Framework “targets the underserved and predominantly low-income rural East County communities of Boulevard and Jacumba as the renewable energy sacrifice zone” for industrial-scale renewable energy projects.
Tisdale added that two to four new 100 MW wind/solar projects:
“. . .each covering hundreds to thousands of acres, will be required annually to meet these forced goals. Off-shore wind was apparently excluded from the study, along with advanced nuclear, converting gas peak-demand plants to hydrogen, or biomass.”
The American Eagle Foundation and American Bird Conservancy estimate that more than 1.4 million birds will be killed by 2030 if there is no change in U.S. policy toward wind energy projects. It noted that a 2013 study found wind turbines were killing more than a half-million birds annually in the United States, and many more facilities have been built since then.
The Altamont Wind Resource Area in northern California alone killed more than 2,000 golden eagles, and deaths have continued even after mitigation efforts. The National Audubon Society recently filed suit in Alameda County seeking to prevent approval of a wind project. Glenn Phillips, Executive Director of the Golden State Audubon Society, noted that Altamont is:
“. . .back on pace to kill as many Golden Eagles as it did 15 years ago.”
The late Dr. Michael Hutchins, former National Coordinator of the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign, once said:
“Alternative energy is not `green’ if it is killing hundreds or thousands or millions of birds annually. Our wildlife should not be collateral damage in our effort to combat climate change, nor does it have to be.”
Nature advocates have called for more stringent regulations and following the science to require proper siting of farms and mitigation of their wildlife-killing effects. But the wind industry has a long history of ignoring federal laws to protect eagles and for making pledges for mitigation that has proven ineffective.
Power grid in Democrat-run California struggling – ‘instability lies ahead’ thanks to ‘risky supply of energy’
August 18, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Californians locked into an unwanted game of tag with utility companies on Monday, August 17th. Only a flick of a light switch could tell if they were “it.”
Since Friday, August 14th, three million homes have been plunged into darkness on a rotating basis, as the power grid hits capacity, and the state’s grid operator initiates rolling blackouts in a desperate attempt to keep the system from collapsing.
It has generated widespread confusion… and countless calls for service to police departments.
“People are afraid,” said one officer. “They don’t know what to expect and with all of the civil unrest – they’re worried about what’s to come.”
Energy experts say a heat wave was the catalyst. The hotter weather had people turning up the air conditioning, only to find out the state’s power grid can’t handle that level of consumer demand.
What happened next came as a shock to Californians who are used to heat waves, but not used to forced shutdowns of their power supply.
The California Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid, tweeted Friday night that a Stage 3 System Emergency had created the need for forced outages.
The #ISO declared a Stage 3 Emergency at 6:28 p.m., due to increased electricity demand, the unexpected loss of a 470-MW power plant, and loss of 1,000 MW of wind power. Power was ordered restored at 6:48 p.m., as wind resources increased. https://t.co/HpLZ3uGjB0
— California ISO (@California_ISO) August 16, 2020
According to Breitbart, officials blamed an:
“unexpected loss of a 470-megawatt power plant Saturday evening, as well as the loss of nearly 1,000 megawatts of wind power.”
Utility companies had not imposed rolling blackouts in the state since 2001.
Social media outlets immediately exploded with criticism.
A user going by “SaveCalifornia.com” pointed at politics to blame, tweeting:
“If there’s a “rolling blackout” in California, blame the Democrat politicians. Their 60+ years of virtual control in Sacramento should have given us a cheap, stable supply of electricity.”
If there's a "rolling blackout" in California, blame the Democrat politicians. Their 60+ years of virtual control in Sacramento should have given us a cheap, stable supply of electricity. "Severe heat wave causes rolling blackouts … across California" https://t.co/JxqzQIihnW pic.twitter.com/MSg2VJR4gH
— SaveCalifornia.com (@savecalifornia) August 15, 2020
In Texas, a state representative tweeted:
“Dear #txlege colleagues who support increasing renewable energy subsidies and the proliferation of wind power in TX. Bookmark what’s happening in CA. We are next, and more government intervention is not the answer.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom told Bloomberg News:
“Let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan these shortages and that’s simply unacceptable.”
He is calling for an investigation into why officials failed to predict the need for blackouts.
The whole experience may prove good practice for what’s to come.
The state has aggressively shifted away from the use of natural gas, in a push toward clean energy. Bloomberg reports that gas plants have been shuttered. With the closings, state leaders have taken away enough gas generation to power nearly seven million homes.
Instead, they’re looking to renewable energy to pick up the slack. It has 33% of its electricity coming from renewable sources. We now see how that turns out.
When a heat wave combined with cloud cover and solar production is not enough, California goes dark.
Sometimes, the state can tap surrounding states to import power, however, that didn’t happen this time.
Bloomberg Financial Analyst Brian Bartholomew said:
“It’s retired a lot of gas. And the storage that’s supposed to help hasn’t yet come online.”
Environmental activist and political advisor on environment issues, Michael Shellenberger, tweeted about the blackouts, calling the situation in California a “nightmare”, and comparing it to the shift to renewable energy happening in Europe. He tweeted, in part, that it is the “model Democrats want to impose on the rest of US.”
– is imposing black-outs for a 2nd time in a year
– saw electric prices rise 6x more than rest of US, 2011 – 2019
– is shutting down last nuclear plant which creates cheap, clean, reliable power to 3M people
– is the model Democrats want to impose on the rest of US
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) August 15, 2020
It’s a cautionary tale of what other states could face if they increase reliance on fossil fuels and move to green energy.
The Mercury News reported that last fall, top officials at California’s power grid operator warned electricity shortages would follow when the state ditched consistent energy sources like natural gas. They called it a “most urgent issue” that “really needs timely attention.”
Stanford University economics professor Frank Wolak told the news outlet:
“We have a much more risky supply of energy now because the sun doesn’t always shine when we want and the wind doesn’t always blow when we want. We need more tools to manage that risk. We need more insurance against the supply shortfalls.”
That’s been demonstrated at a particularly dangerous time, through a man-made error that is quickly showing how anti-fossil fuel mandates can lead to electricity shortages, with Californians serving as the unwilling example.
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