This is a great story of a wind energy developer working with conservation groups to find a solution that meets both our needs for alternative energy and wildlife protection. But there’s a little more to the story. Montana Audubon initially reached out to Garry George, Audubon California’s renewable energy project director, with its concerns about the wind project targeted for the Kevin Rim Important Bird Area. The chapter reported that 27 of the turbines were too close to raptor nests, primarily Ferruginous Hawk, and they hadn’t been able to express their concerns to the developer.
In discussions with Montana Audubon, it was revealed that the energy was being sold to and transmitted to San Diego Gas & Electric, also an investor in the project. George connected Montana Audubon to San Diego Audubon, which recently had won a $100,000 Environmental Champions award from San Diego Gas & Electric as part of new policy to reach out to environmental groups. San Diego Audubon asked the power company why it was purchasing energy from a project outside of California that did not meet the California guidelines standards on buffer zones for raptors. San Diego Gas & Electric responded that it was limited in what it could do, as the company was not the developer on the project. But soon afterwards, NaturEner, the developer, contacted Montana Audubon to discuss the turbines and the raptors, and in August the chapter and the developer entered into an MOU to move 25 turbines further away from the raptor nests. (photo of Ferruginous Hawk by USFWS)