NaturEner has announced transmission and eagle-protection updates on its 189 MW Rim Rock wind farm. The project, located in Glacier and Toole counties, Mont., entered commercial operation in January.
The company says it is finalizing preparations to begin delivering energy from the wind farm over the Montana-Alberta Tie-Line transmission line that runs between Great Falls, Mont., and Lethbridge, Alberta.
As NaturEner reaches this milestone, it says it is also launching wildlife conservation measures at the Rim Rock project meant to significantly reduce the risk of potential harm to eagles and other birds. These measures include the installation of radar detection systems for eagles and the positioning of trained avian biologists at different locations. The biologists will be able to immediately pause wind turbine operations, in coordination with NaturEner's 24/7 real-time Operations Center, if there is a potential risk of harm to an approaching eagle.
"We're developing information that will improve the scientific community's understanding of the interaction between eagles and wind farms, and I think that our work at Rim Rock will set a great example for wind power projects across the country,' says senior biologist Cheryl Schweizer.
NaturEner is also further developing the radar detection systems so that they can eventually be operated automatically and remotely once the systems are refined and adjusted to the topography and specific characteristics of the Rim Rock project.
The company says its new conservation measures at Rim Rock come in addition to avian-protection efforts it had previously implemented, including a five-year effort to study the habitat of local avian species, identify historic and active avian nests, and develop a comprehensive plan for designing, constructing and operating the project in a way that significantly reduced the likelihood of harm to wildlife. NaturEner had also previously relocated 25 of Rim Rock's wind turbines in order to minimize the project's impact on nearby nesting raptor habitat.