Energy Company Pays $35 Million for Wrongful Eagle Deaths

Part of the money will go towards making wind turbines safer for birds

If you're an eagle, steer clear of wind turbines.
Zdeněk Macháček/Unsplash

Wind turbines are a technology that has many admirers in the world of green energy, and it’s not hard to see why — wind is, after all, something that’s relatively constant, without the potential to run out. For people, turbines are a net positive. For some eagles, however, the opposite is the case. And that’s what brings us to the fine levied against ESI Energy, which puts two admirable things — renewable energy and conservation — at odds with one another.

As The Washington Post reported, the energy company in question recently agreed to pay $35 million in fines due to the company’s wind turbines killing a number of eagles.

At issue here is one of the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the killing of protected birds without a permit. ESI Energy pleaded guilty to killing approximately 150 eagles since 2012 as a result of the birds getting caught in wind turbines.

Of the $35 million the company agreed to pay, $8 million takes the form of fines. A Justice Department press release noted that the remaining $27 million would go towards “measures intended to minimize additional eagle deaths and injuries.” It’s not clear what those are at this point, though a Norwegian study found that painting turbine blades can dramatically reduce bird fatalities.

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