Some people fear clean energy sources could harm wildlife in New Mexico.
Dr. Gary Roemer, a professor at New Mexico State University, said he suspects wind turbines have killed eagles in the state.
However, there is not a lot of surveillance at the wind farms, so it’s hard to be sure.
“If we start putting up wind turbines all over the place, without mitigating the impact, that’s going to be another additive mortality factor to these populations that maybe they haven’t previously experienced,” Roemer said.
Roemer said work is being done to develop ways to protect birds.
“A lot of folks are trying to figure out ways of siting windmills in such a way and, or there’s been other methods of trying to warn predators of the presence of the windmill,” he said. “But yet none of these have worked to a great degree. We’re going to have some impacts on these species. ”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has developed guidelines for wind energy developers to offset wind energy’s impact on wildlife.
Wind farm owners could voluntarily opt-in to make improvements in other areas of the grid.
“There may be power poles out there that are particularly prone to causing eagle and raptor mortality, so if you can find those poles and then retrofit them then basically you’d be preventing eagles from getting electrocuted there.”
A spokesperson for PNM said it doesn’t own any wind farms in New Mexico. Instead, it buys electricity from them.
The spokesperson said it’s up to the companies that own the farms to comply with environmental regulations and programs to protect wildlife.