Golden eagle could affect East Coast wind farm development

E&E • Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The flight of just one female golden eagle near Connecticut’s Housatonic River could affect the course of wind farm development on the East Coast. Researchers say her existence could indicate there are many more in the region.

When surface winds hit sloped terrain on hillsides and mountains, it creates a big lift or updraft. That updraft is why wind farm developers like to install wind turbines on mountain ridgelines. But eagles also like to use the updraft as they fly, which can create a collision course.

There are no commercial-sized wind turbines in Connecticut. But the Connecticut Siting Council approved construction of a six-turbine, 9.6-megawatt commercial wind farm project in Colebrook last year. The company developing the project is waiting for a decision from a Superior Court appeal that contends the council does not have the authority to approve wind farms.

According to researchers citing a recent bird mortality study, wind farms in the Altamont Pass near Oakland, Calif., kill an estimated 70 golden eagles each year (Janice Podsada, Hartford Courant, April 7)