Sustainability Energy

Wind energy company pleads guilty to killing and wounding eagles in eight states

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Story at a glance

  • Wind energy company ESI Energy pled guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Protection Act after a number of dead golden and bald eagles were recently found on their farms. 

  • The company will now have to pay over $8 million in fines and restitution and undergo a five-year probationary period for violating the law. 

  • The company will have to pay over $29,000 for every eagle killed or injured on one of its wind farms in the future. 

A wind energy company pled guilty to killing 150 eagles across eight states and will now have to pay over $8 million in fines and serve five years of probation, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

ESI Energy Inc, a subsidiary of powerhouse clean energy supplier NextEra Energy Resources, operates 154 wind farms in eight states including Wyoming, New Mexico, California and Arizona.  

On Tuesday, ESI Energy pled guilty to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, after three golden eagles died after hitting a wind turbine at one of farms in Wyoming and New Mexico, where the company had not applied for proper permits.  


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The Migratory Bird Treaty Act bans the killing, capturing, selling, trading and transport of protected migratory birds without prior authorization from the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

Court documents show that between 2018 and 2019 ESI Energy gave the okay for its subsidiary Cedar Spring Transmission to build a wind farm in Converse County, Wyo.  

In the spring of 2019, the company was warned that up to 44 golden eagles and 23 bald eagles could collide into one of the turbines—due to a high number of golden eagle nests in the area—at the Wyoming farm but chose to proceed with development anyway. 

Documents also show that in December of 2020, two golden eagle carcasses were found near a wind turbine at an ESI subsidiary FPL Energy New Mexico Wind.  

After decades of plummeting numbers, conservation efforts boosted the bald eagle population to the point that it was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. But the birds are still protected under the MBTA and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  

In addition, at least 150 golden and bald eagles were found to have died at 50 ESI Energy wind farms since 2012 with 136 of those birds dying after flying into a turbine blade.  

As part of its probation, ESI Energy is required to roll out an Eagle Management Plan. Under that plan, the company must implement up to $27 million worth of measures to minimize eagle deaths and apply for permits for any unavoidable death of eagles at its farms.  

In the future, ESI Energy will need to cough up $29,600 for every eagle that dies or is injured on one its farms. 


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