A California wind farm is attracting the ire of environmentalists for delays in replacing outdated wind turbines that can be deadly to endangered birds.
In 2005, Altamont Winds Inc. cut a deal with Alameda County to phase out 25 percent of its old turbines by 2013. The company then secured a two-year extension and now is requesting three more years to complete the project.That angers environmentalists who note other wind companies in the county began replacing their turbine fleets in 2007 after the county struck a deal with Audubon chapters.At issue are 828 outdated wind turbines that have been deadly to protected species. The next-generation turbines, which have the environmentalists’ approval, would create less carnage because fewer turbines would be required to create the same amount of power, and they could be placed outside the birds’ flight paths.
Representatives from Altamont Winds could not be reached for comment, but Andreas Culver, secretary-treasurer of Alameda County’s Building and Construction Trades Council, which has invested pension funds with the company, said it deserves some wiggle room because it is a local small business.
“They’re not a big multinational that can shut down and move resources quickly,” he said. “Careers are at stake here.” The company employs 40 people at Altamont.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will vote on the extension today, but Michael Lynes, director of public policy for Audubon California, said he is worried the company will never replace the turbines if it gets an extension.
“If you were a businessperson and you got an another extension this year, then why wouldn’t you think to just come back in  and ask for another one?” he asked.
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