An Oregon company with wind projects in two Wyoming counties was fined $2.5 million Tuesday in connection with the deaths of protected birds, including golden eagles.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, PacifiCorp Energy is responsible for the deaths of 38 golden eagles and 336 other protected birds – including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows – whose carcasses were discovered by the company at its Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills wind projects in Carbon and Converse counties since 2009.
The two wind projects consist of 237 large wind turbines on private and company-owned land.
Under a plea agreement with the government, officials said, the company was sentenced to pay fines, restitution and community service totaling $2.5 million. Also, it was placed on probation for five years, during which it must implement an environmental compliance plan aimed at preventing bird deaths at the company’s four commercial wind projects in the state.
In documents presented in U.S. District Court in Wyoming, the government alleged that PacifiCorp Energy failed to make all reasonable efforts to build the projects in a way that would avoid the risk of avian deaths by collision with turbine blades, despite prior guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
However, the company cooperated with the investigation and already has implemented measures aimed at minimizing bird deaths at the sites.