A planned $400 million project to build a wind turbine energy farm in northwest Missouri appears to be dead because it is too close to a bird sanctuary.
Element Power of Portland, Oregon had planned to build a sprawling wind farm on 25,000 acres east of the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, Missouri.
The company planned to sell power from its 200-megawatt facility to Kansas City Power Light.
But as soon as the plans were announced, bird lovers in the area began to protest the move, saying the proximity to the sanctuary would be disastrous for the birds that are supposed to be protected there.
John Rushin, the former head of the biology department at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, said he was shocked that the company was planning the wind farm so close to the bird preserve. He felt the company “didn’t have a clear understanding of what that site was and what was at stake.”
“If I could look all over northern Missouri for the worst possible place to put this thing, this would be it,” Rushin said of the Squaw Creek site.
Eventually, the company found plans becoming increasingly complicated by the birds. Officials discovered that they would have to apply for “incidental take permits” if any threatened or endangered birds were killed by wind turbines.
Element project manager Scott Zeimetz had announced that the company would comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Initially, Element Power was communicating with the bird lovers but recently ended its efforts.
Ultimately, after five years of studying the site, the company decided that the costs to comply with the endangered species requirements were too much to overcome. By Monday, the company announced that it was canceling its plans for the Squaw Creek site and said it was going to start looking elsewhere in Missouri.
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