A plan to construct 80 wind turbines as tall as skyscrapers on farmland in western Palm Beach County could harm several endangered species, according to an analysis by a federal wildlife agency.
Wind Capital Group of St. Louis proposes the construction of a wind farm across 16,000 acres of the Everglades Agricultural Area, land used for the production of vegetables and sugar cane. Each turbine at the Big Lake Wind Facility would be 475 to 515 feet high, exceeding the height of the tallest building in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The blades will spin at a maximum speed of 195 miles per hour, with each turbine capable of powering 400 homes.
The turbines will also be capable of killing birds, including several endangered species, according to a preliminary analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In a July 1 letter to the company, the agency said it was concerned about the impact to the Everglade snail kite, wood stork, northern crested caracara and the many species that inhabit the nearby Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The service also expressed concern abou the potential harm to bats and the endangered eastern indigo snake.
The project falls within the core foraging zone of five rookeries of endangered wood storks in the Loxahatchee refuge.
“The Service is concerned about the risk of injury or death of migratory birds or federally listed species,” states the letter from Spencer Simon, acting field supervisor for the service’s South Florida office. “…Collisions with turbine blades are often fatal, and usually resultin the animal being effectively eliminated from the breeding population.”
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