The Bird Safe Wind Turbine

Part of an article originally published in the East County Magazine

By Jim Wiegand

Unbeknownst to most people there is a bird safe wind turbine design being produced. It is called the FloDesign Wind turbine. The turbine is a modified propeller/turbine style turbine with an encased design that protects birds from the open blade tips of other turbines.

The current FloDesign turbine is rated at 100 Kw and  is about the size of the majority of turbines installed at Altamont.  It is also being promoted as being more efficient at harnessing wind energy than traditional 100Kw wind turbines.  Even if it were not as efficient, it would still be much better to have this turbine on Bay Area ridgelines than the thousands of killers that have been spinning for over 30 years. Altamont pass could cease being a “La Brea Tar Pit” for thousands of raptors.

When looking at this new turbine any reasonable person could immediately determine that this wind turbine design would not kill an eagle, a whooping crane or most other bird species.   This turbine will be seen as an obstacle or structure by birds and they will fly around them.  Birds will also not be fooled by the temporary illusion of having open flight space, and attempt to cut through the moving blades. Soaring eagles and other raptors drifting in the wind will not be smashed out of the sky by open blades.

Bird safe wind turbine photo - Courtesy Jim Wiegand
Bird safe wind turbine photo – Courtesy Jim Wiegand

Imagine, Altamont pass could actually eliminate their shameful raptor mortality problem with this turbine. For this reason alone it is the only wind turbine that Alameda county and Contra Costa county should consider with the repowering of APWRA.  It is the only turbine people of the Bay Area should accept on their ridgelines.

In July 2011 FloDesign made a pitch to the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area Scientific Review Committee.  This company wanted to install several test turbines at Altamont Pass so they could prove this turbine was bird safe. There were plans to have this turbine installed by the end of 2012.  For some reason this has been all been delayed. But it would seem that with an ongoing bird kill disaster at Altamont,  that this turbine would be installed as soon as possible. At the very least one would think this turbine would be used to immediately replace the most dangerous turbines.

I also understand that a mortality study is still in the works at Altamont for this turbine. If everything goes as planned researches will study this turbine, burn through a pile of taxpayer dollars, and there will be no answers for several years.

This is why people have to start getting more involved.  They can help the California Energy Commission finally resolve their unresolved environmental problem.

 Jim Wiegand,
Vice President of Save the Eagles International,
Phone 530- 222-5338

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