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Fewer, larger wind turbines less lethal for birds  

Credit:  The Independent | November 07, 2014 | www.independentnews.com ~~

The Final Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) on the repowering of existing wind farm facilities within the unincorporated Alameda County portion of the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) will be the focus of a public hearing set for November 12 in Pleasanton.

Two different projects propose replacing a total of 1,111 turbines with 60 to 64 larger turbines.

One of the two repowering projects, Golden Hills, is sought by NextEra Energy Resources. The firm proposes to remove 775 turbines, and replace them with up to 52 new turbines, generating as much as 88 megawatts. The location covers about 7 square miles along the south side of Interstate 580 through much of the east-west distance of the Altamont.

Immediately south of Golden Hills, the Patterson Pass Wind project, would cover about 1.5 square miles. The project proposed by a subsidiary of EDF Renewable Energy, would replace 336 turbines producing 21 megawatts, and install between 8 and 12 new ones, generating 19 megawatts.

The Altamont area is undergoing repowering to take down old, relatively small wind turbines implicated in raptor deaths. They will be replaced with far fewer, but very large, modern turbines, which are expected to spare more birds.

Although bird deaths will be reduced, the PEIR identifies continued turbine related mortality of birds as a significant and unaviodable impact of repowering.

Wind turbines in the Altamont Pass area generate clean electricity. However, they are located in the prime hunting territory for raptors. Alameda County was sued in an effort to force policies that would reduce the mortality rate of birds, such as golden eagles, red tailed hawks, the American kestral, and western burrowing owl.

A settlement, in 2010, committed the largest company operating in the pass to replace or remove thousands of old turbines.

Researchers study how birds use the different hills, saddles and ridges and look for locations for the turbines that will reduce problems.

The Final PEIR is available for review at the Planning Department office in Hayward, and at the Department’s website www.acgov.org/cda/planning. The East County Board of Zoning Adjustments (EBZA) will hold a public hearing to consider certifying the Final PEIR and to take action on the two subject applications. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 1:00 p.m., at the City of Pleasanton Council Chambers, 200 Old Bernal Avenue, Pleasanton.

For more information, please contact Andrew Young at 510-670-5400 or andrew.young@acgov.org.

Source:  The Independent | November 07, 2014 | www.independentnews.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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