Big win for birds: Controversial wind turbines to shut down at Altamont

Company that had received an extension allowing older turbines now says it will shut them down to avoid harming birds.

In a big win for birds, one of the wind power companies operating in the Altamont Pass near San Francisco this week announced that it was shutting down all of its older turbines, which have been proven to be a greater hazard to birds in the area. The company, Altamont Wind, also indicated that it would install larger turbines that are thought to generate more power while also being safer for birds.

This past March, Altamont Wind, received an extension from Alameda County allowing it to operate the older turbines for an additional three years, even though it already received an extention in 2013. Thanks to the efforts of Bay Area Audubon chapters, most Altamont wind companies are now replacing their older turbines with newer models that are less harmful to birds. Altamont Winds Inc., requested this delay until 2018, even though it already received an extension in 2013. Scientists had estimated that an additional eleven to sixteen Golden Eagles would die over the three-year extention, along with countless other raptors.

Audubon California was one of many groups fighting the extention. ""For decades, wind turbines at Altamont killed thousands of Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors," said Audubon California Policy Director Mike Lynes, earlier this year. "This company should be required to play by the same rules as the other wind companies at Altamont Pass."

Lynes decribed the decision to remove the older turbines as a good outcome for birds.

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