Over the objections of environmental groups, the federal government agreed Friday to issue eagle-take permits to wind companies for 30 years, instead of five. The permits allow companies to kill a certain number of eagles without penalty, while requiring additional mitigation and conservation measures.
Industry lobbied for the change, saying that the short permits left too much uncertainty when planning major projects.
A smartphone app that’s trying to raise awareness about conflicts between wind turbines and birds saw a spike in downloads after a settlement over eagle deaths at wind farms in Wyoming was announced last week.
The game is called WingWhackers, and the premise is pretty simple. You’re a protected bird of some kind -- an eagle, an owl, a hawk, and you need to make it home with dinner, through a field of spinning wind turbines.
A wind energy company that was fined a million dollars Friday for the deaths of 14 golden eagles at its Wyoming facilities says it’s making strides to mitigate future bird deaths.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee says Duke has removed rock piles that can attract prey and employs field biologists who send out alerts if turbines need to be shut down. She says they’re also working to install a radar system.
The Bureau of Land Management hosted two meetings this week to collect public comments on the TransWest high-voltage wind power transmission line. That wasn’t enough for some, who say more opportunity for public input is needed.
The Department of Energy says that Wyoming is 14th in the nation based on the amount of wind it can turn into electricity. But the state did not add any new wind projects last year. The DOE’s Jose Zayas says there are several possible reasons.
“You do need to have access to large-scale transmission lines to move power out,” Zayas said. He added that Wyoming also does not consume as much electricity as other states.
The Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming is taking public comments on a long awaited 725 mile long transmission project. The Trans West Express transmission project was started in 2008 and is intended to take renewable energy from south central Wyoming to Nevada. Wyoming B-L-M Spokeswoman Beverly Gorney says they’ve had to consider a number of environmental and other issues in the draft environmental impact statement.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the approval of three major renewable energy projects on public lands. Jewell emphasized her commitment to President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and said one of her top priorities was to continue the work started by her predecessor, Ken Salazar, to expand the nation’s renewable energy portfolio.
A University of Wyoming wind study shows that combining the wind resources of Wyoming and Colorado would benefit the Colorado energy grid.
U-W Wind Energy Research Center Director Jonathan Naughton said that’s because wind in Colorado and Wyoming blows differently. He said that if the resources are combined, it would make wind power more consistent.
“It easier to integrate into the grid, saves in money that you don’t have to use for purchasing backup power that would likely come from gas turbine engines fired by natural gas.”
A proposed wind power transmission line wants feedback on its proposed route. The Zephyr Power Transmission Project is an approximately 850-mile transmission line that would deliver wind energy generated in eastern Wyoming to population centers in the southwestern U.S. As proposed, the project will begin at the Pathfinder Wind Energy Development near Chugwater, cross portions of Colorado and Utah, and end up near the Eldorado Valley, just south of Las Vegas.
A group of University of Wyoming researchers received $508,000 from NASA to study aerodynamics and wind resistance at Wyoming’s Supercomputing Center.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that Wyoming has one of the highest capacities for wind power production in the country. But University of Wyoming Mathematics Professor Stefan Heinz says most wind farms aren’t arranged as efficiently as they could be. He says the wake of one turbine often disrupts the turbines around it, reducing efficiency.
Next on the show is the a Wind Energy expert and the author of the book Harvest the Wind: America’s Journey to jobs, energy independence and climate stability. Phil Warburg tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that while it appears that enthusiasm for Wind Energy has slowed down in Wyoming, that is not the case in the rest of the country.
An Aide to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, warned Wyoming government and industry officials yesterday (Tuesday) about the impact of expiring incentives for renewable energy projects.
Steve Black spoke at a meeting of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority in Jackson. He said both a grant program and a loan guarantee program for renewables have already expired. He adds that a tax credit that encourages wind projects is due to expire this year. Black says now is not the time to tax an industry that's just getting off the ground.