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Duke Energy pleads guilty, will pay $1 million for killing birds

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2013

Duke Energy Corp., a major U.S. power company, has pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two Wyoming wind farms and agreed to pay $1 million.

The case against Duke Energy and Duke Energy Renewables Inc. was the first prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against a wind-energy company, The Associated Press reported.

"Wind energy is not green if it is killing hundreds of thousands of birds," said George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy. "The unfortunate reality is that the flagrant violations of the law seen in this case are widespread."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating 18 cases of bird deaths by wind-energy companies, and about six of those have been referred to the Department of Justice, AP reported.

Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement that Duke acknowledged in the agreement that it constructed its turbines knowing that they likely would result in avian deaths.

"We deeply regret the impacts of golden eagles at two of our wind facilities," Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables, said in a statement. "Our goal is to provide the benefits of wind energy in the most environmentally responsible way possible."

As part of the deal, Duke will install new radar technology to track eagles when they venture near the turbines. Duke also will have to apply for an eagle take permit and draft a plan to reduce bird deaths, AP reported.

The $1 million settlement will be divided among a wetlands conservation fund, the state of Wyoming, and land purchases to protect golden eagle habitats, among other projects, the report said.

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