Wind farm turns to remotes, radar to prevent bird deaths

Source: E&E • Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Montana wind farm is using tracking radar and a remote operations center to prevent golden eagle and other raptor deaths.

The radar’s “detect and deter” cameras, along with human monitors, at the Rim Rock Wind Facility in Glacier and Toole counties can spot signs of possible bird collisions and shut down wind turbines within 30 seconds.

Greg Copeland, vice president of wind energy development for the plant’s owner, NaturEner USA, said the system “provides the best kind of protections that have been deployed anywhere in the United States.”

The 189-megawatt wind farm, the largest in Montana, is near a series of sandstone cliffs considered prime raptor habitat. Despite that, the facility has two documented raptor deaths since it opened in October 2012, which environmentalists say is less than the number of raptor deaths recorded at other facilities of similar size.

Steve Hoffman, the executive director of Montana Audubon, said the wind farm had gone “above and beyond” in its efforts to mitigate impacts on birds of prey (AP/Billings Gazette, Nov. 11)