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United States

Bird kills force NextEra to remove Californian wind turbines

UNITED STATES: Owner-operator NextEra Energy Resources must take down all its wind turbines in California’s Altamont Pass in the next five years, in a settlement brokered by the state attorney general.

The company also must pay $2.5 million in mitigation fees, according to the agreement reached with environmental groups and the state over the issue of bird kills.

Under the settlement, NextEra will replace about 2,400 turbines over the next four years, and shut down all existing turbines by 2015.

Audubon Society chapters and the non-profit group Californians for Renewable Energy (CARE) had challenged Alameda County’s renewal of permits for the turbines in 2005.

This week’s agreement is based on the premise that newer model turbines kill far fewer birds that older models.

Many wind turbines in Altamont are up to 25 years old.

A 2004 study by the California Energy Commission found that 5,400 older turbines at Altamont Pass killed between 1,766 and 4,271 birds a year, including the federally protected golden eagle.

But, the wind industry, including the California Wind Energy Association, charged that this study was deeply flawed.

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