Wind Towers Slaying Birds

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010  |  Updated 1:15 PM PDT
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Wind Towers Slaying Birds

flickr.com, twicepix

Wind turbines along the Altamount Pass will soon become more bird friendly.

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Wind-powered generators are an Earth-friendly way to generate power, except of course for all the death that they cause.

Every year, thousands of birds are killed by the spinning blades. Now, under a new agreement with the state, the company responsible for the largest bank of turbines in the Altamont Pass will replace the structures with models that are more bird-friendly.

They'll also contribute millions towards habitat restoration for threatened avian species.

Many of the turbines date back to the 1980s, and were installed without consideration for birds' flight paths. The towers in the most sensitive areas will be deactivated, and others will be placed higher and further apart. Lattices that attracted nests will be removed.

The Altamont Pass is a crucial point in the state's wind-powered energy industry. It's a narrow cut in the hills between the ocean and central valley, where winds reach high speeds.

Meanwhile, wind power is having trouble winning adoption right here in San Francisco. Though potentially cheaper than solar, neighbors have resisted the installation of turbines over aesthetic grounds. The City is currently working on modeling nearby wind currents to determine the most effective placement for its own generators.

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