Decision Expected On Bird Kills At Altamont

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(Modesto, CA)
Wednesday, July 6, 2005

For two decades the five thousand wind turbines at the Altamont Pass have provided thousands of northern California homes with non-polluting energy. But the blades that sit atop the towering structures have also sent thousands of birds to a premature death, according to Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity.

"These turbines at Altamont are killing an estimated 880 to 13-hundred birds of prey each year, including really high numbers of Golden Eagles and Western Burrowing Owls, very rare birds."    

Miller and other environmentalists are asking the supervisors to require operators to remove the more lethal turbines and shut down the farm during migration periods.

Yet other environmentalists who are promoting wind energy and power companies counter by saying that tall buildings and high voltage lines take a far greater toll on birds than turbines. They also point out that operators have taken some steps to reduce fatalities, such as painting the blades colors that birds can recognize from a distance.

So far the members of the board haven't given any indication as to what, if any action they'll take.