PacifiCorp to Pay $2.5 Million for Bird Deaths at Wind Farms
PacifiCorp Energy, which does business in Wyoming as Rocky Mountain Power, must pay $2.5 million in fines for killing hundreds of migratory birds at wind farms in Converse and Carbon counties, according to federal court documents and a U.S. Department of Justice news release issued Friday
Federal attorneys accused PacifiCorp Energy, a division of the Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp, of two misdemeanor counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which was enacted in 1918 to protect birds that flew between Canada and the United States.
The company was sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation with special conditions; ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the State of Wyoming; ordered to pay $1.9 million to the congressionally chartered National Fish and Wildlife foundation for projects preserving golden eagles; and ordered to pay $400,000 to the federally administered North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, according to the news release from the Department of Justice. (The total amount of fines listed in the sentencing minutes is $2.7 million. A U.S. Attorney's office spokesman could not be reached to explain the discrepancy.)
According to the criminal information document, 71 birds, including 15 golden eagles, died at the Seven Mile Hill wind farm in Carbon County.
At the Glenrock/Rolling Hills wind farm in Converse County, 265 birds died, including 23 golden eagles.
The deaths occurred from May 19, 2009, to Tuesday, when the criminal information document was filed by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Wyoming and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a prepared statement, PacifiCorp's vice president for renewable resources said the company has been working with federal and state agencies to protect migratory birds. "We are committed to enhancing protections to wildlife that minimize and mitigate impacts."
PacifiCorp drafted migratory bird protection plans and hired observers to monitor the wind farms for eagle activity after guidelines issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in 2012, according to the prepared statement.
The company also ordered operators to shut down turbines to reduce risks when eagles were observed near turbines and removed features that attract prey species, according to the statement.