ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Opponents of expanded wind power call it the great contradiction. They say that so called “green energy” is good for the environment, but bad for birds.

Each year, the spinning turbine blades will kill countless migrating birds, from bats to bald eagles.

Daniel Schleck is an attorney representing the citizen’s group, the Coalition for Sensible Siting.

“When you’re dealing with noted species it’s hard to identify how many, so that issue needs to be addressed possibly further,” Schleck said.

Schleck was among those in attendance at a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing in St. Paul concerning the latest wind farm application. AWA Goodhue Wind is proposing to build a 48-turbine wind farm in the heart of Goodhue County.

The latest hurdle it faces is getting approval of an Avian and Bat Protection Plan. The plan is required by the PUC before the wind project can move forward. The problem is the wind farm is proposed just miles from the critical Mississippi flyway, a major nesting area for bald and golden eagles.

In a packed hearing room Thursday, commissioners heard details of the plan but were unimpressed. They cite missing and incomplete data that was collected by project contractors concerning the number of eagle nests, their location as well as data on bat colonies.

The project is also Minnesota’s first to be required to estimate the unintentional but highly likely killing of eagles. It’s known as an “incidental take permit,” issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It does not intend to have negative impact on birds and bats in the area and certainly not intend to kill bald eagles,” said Christy Brisven, the attorney for Goodhue Wind.

After hearing from Brisven as well as opponents, the commission voted 2-1 to deny the permit and send it back for more work.

Comments (16)
  1. Will says:

    Perhaps the vulnerable bird species of concern would be well served if language in the “deadly force” bill coming out of the legislature would provide a similar means of defense also.

  2. Rick Conrad says:

    The PUC continues to be very generous to the applicant, who has been less than honest with the PUC. They place most of their turbines close to wetlands or otherwise less favorable agricultural land then claim most of their turbines are located in ag fields? The middle of a large field is the best place for a turbine for every reason but the one reason that they are not placed there. Prime farmland is worth about $5000 per acre. So the turbine are pushed into the marginal ag areas which is the best natural habitat left.

  3. missy says:

    Turbines are expensive to build, expensive to install, and do NOT save enegry. It cost more to build these, ship these, install these than the amount of energy that is saved. They also cause headaches for anyone living within a close vacinity. These things are the biggest load of bull perpetuated by environmentalists, right up there with corn oil, Hah!

  4. Kristi says:

    Good for the Public Utilities Commissioners. They saw that this T. Boone Pickens owned project was more interested in deception than protection. Great job by the citizens of MN who stood up and spoke the truth.

  5. Jensen Lee says:

    Good for the citizens of Red Wing in fighting back against National Wind, a company that brags on its home page that “We will create shared ownership with communities and provide them a voice.” When the community tried to use its voice to warn that the area was home to eagles, bats and other wildlife, no one would listen; National Wind and the Public Utilities commissioners had no comment. Thanks to the people and the media for shining a bright light on this outrage. More at bird

  6. Hank Rearden says:

    Wind power wouldn’t exist without huge subsidies.

  7. Rick Conrad says:

    Most of Goodhue Winds problems can be traced back to the renewal energy standard and the study that identified that identified 39 megawatts of exiting grid capacity each at the Vasa and Goodhue substations for a total of 78 megawatts. This coupled with the PTC federal production tax credit which later evolved into the 1603 stimulus grant program motivated Goodhue Wind to seek to build a 78 megawatt project to receive the maximum incentive benefits.
    The developers also pretended to be a C-BED community energy project to receive an additionally higher wholesale price for the power produced by their project. But as everyone is now realizing claiming to be community based and enlisting the support of the community are two different things. This C-Bed project had almost no community ownership and even less community support.
    The greed of project developers kept them from offering adequate compensation to participants while at the same time the land leases turned over other landowner rights the implications of which have not yet been completely explored. The bad contracts motivated by their greed tmaximizesse profits resulted in the developers only being able to sign about one third of the land in their footprint. That coupled with the detrimental effects to non-participants property values made this a live and death struggle between the community and the developers.