Wind company pays $35 million over eagle deaths

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A subsidiary of NextEra Energy will pay over $35 million to settle violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act at its wind farms in Wyoming and New Mexico. ESI Energy Inc. pled guilty to the three counts over golden eagles killed by blunt force trauma after striking wind blades, though at least 136 bald and golden eagles have been killed by a blade strike at 50 different ESI facilities since 2012, according to DOJ. The settlement includes a $1.9 million fine, $6.2 million in restitution and $27 million on mitigation measures and payments for future eagle deaths.

ESI also has three years to apply for “take” permits for the 50 facilities, which will require operational changes to reduce risk to protected birds that many other wind farms have already taken. The Trump administration changed its longstanding MBTA policy to prohibit prosecution of companies conducting otherwise lawful activities — and in fact, the company avoided restitution for 13 eagles killed last year before the Biden administration repealed the rule.