The Wind Tech
By Jim Wiegand
"I am an employee at a wind farm. I would like to speak with somebody about eagle deaths that I have seen and reported. Please give me a call back." It was forwarded to me and a meeting was arranged.
Imagine being a young man having served your time in the military and ready to settle into a career. You have a job but want something bigger and better, especially since marriage plans are in your future. You also have integrity so you want a meaningful life that can help make a difference in this world.
After months of researching career opportunities, a future in green energy gets your attention. After all renewable energy benefits society and green energy will help create a better world for your children to inherit. You discover that wind energy fits the bill and seems to have the most job opportunities. So with your GI benefits, you enroll in an associate’s degree program to be a certified wind turbine technician. After two years and excellent grades you feel a great deal of accomplishment when you graduate. You are now officially a wind turbine technician and it is time to make your mark on the world.
With your degree and the having the skills of being fearless, physically fit and knack for fixing things, you soon land a job.
In the beginning you were told that some birds would die but you were reminded that it wasn't that many, especially when compared to so many of the other things that kill birds. Besides the industry's new turbines are rotate much slower and are much safer for birds. You were also told that this was an industry that served the greater good of your community and the world.
As years roll by you are promoted and given new responsibilities. One of them is to deal with the carcasses from around the turbines. While you were clearly told from the top that you are supposed to report them, you were also reminded from others in the company that once out in the field, you are alone. No one is really aware of what you see or do. Most of all, reporting everything will likely lead to wind farm shut downs.
With your new responsibilities of handling the carcasses, you realize that the carcasses numbers are starting to add up. You are also seeing carcasses of beautiful strange birds that you had never seen before or even knew existed. So you start doing research to find out more about them. You discover the many of the birds you are finding are rare and are highly protected by strict laws.
You do additional research on wind turbines and start learning about their long history of killing birds. Your perception of wind energy is changing because of what you have learned and have experienced in the field. Turbines are sprouting up everywhere and you realize that the eagles and other species you thought were so protected are not.
These disturbing images haunt you night and day because you love these eagles. Some you find are headless and it always bothers you if you can never find the head. Others are cut in half and missing parts as well. Some you see are severely wounded, running around on the ground without a wing so that have to be caught so they can be put down or euthanized. Others have injuries you can't even see.
One eagle in particular, with its last bit of energy, sank its talons deep into a piece of wood and you had trouble pulling the massive talons away. You think to yourself this poor guy fought to the very end. You look ahead with dread because there will always be a next eagle that you will have to deal with.
There is also guilt because you are aware that these turbines are killers and when you tell people what you do, you think to yourself they might be aware that you work for the "eagle killers." There is also guilt because we are supposed to report all the carcasses but if we "report" too many you will lose our job.
You no longer see the greater good in wind energy and hate the job you were once so proud of because your job, your career, and your company are slaughtering off these eagles. There is no pride left in what you do, just shame.
Your participation in these eagle deaths isn't what you signed up for and you feel trapped. The wonderful career that you once thought could make a difference is helping to kill a piece of the world. You no longer sleep soundly as you once did.
Now you must carry this burden. A burden that stays with you even on your days off because you know have to go back. A job that helps to keep the turbines running, and the better the turbines run, the more eagles that are going to die. Topping off your dilemma is the thought of a globetrotting boss that drives around in a Ferrari.
Then you read a quote made by wildlife biologist Doug Bell in 2015 that really hits home........ “It’s one of the most painful things to come across, an injured or dying eagle,” Bell says. “It’s just such a meaningful symbol."
This quote is a tipping point for you because you know better than anyone the tragedy taking place around these turbines. Then after much soul searching over the next several months, you make a decision to do something. You reach out for help and contact Save the Eagles International… , an international organization founded by Mark Duchamp, a man who could not enjoy his retirement in Spain knowing that wind turbines were killing off the eagles, there and around the world. He has been fighting to protect biodiversity from wind turbines ever since.
Surely he would understand what you have been dealing with.
In September 2015 Save the Eagles International received an email correspondence from this wind tech.......... "I am an employee at a wind farm. I would like to speak with somebody about eagle deaths that I have seen and reported. Please give me a call back." It was forwarded to me and a meeting was arranged.
At the meeting this sad story unfolded about a man trapped by his conscience, his family obligations, and an unknown future.
The meeting lasted for about 1 1/2 hours which was more like an Act of Contrition with me being the priest. He said he was a Christian but had a belief system towards eagles similar to the Native American people, a belief that all eagles have a special spiritual connection with the Great Creator and which were specifically chosen to be the masters of the sky. He also believed that eagles also deserve the highest respect because in this world they represent truth, strength, courage, wisdom, power, and freedom.
But as he has found out, wind energy and these turbines show eagles no respect.
I explained to him some of the things I knew about this industry. When I told him about the how the slower rotating blades fool these eagles into thinking they can fly through these openings in the blades, to my surprise he said he knew all about it and even added: "When they see prey across a hillside they just go for it and don't even think about the blades because they want that food." He also said: "They tell you these big turbines are safer but I know the tip speeds are faster and it is not true."
He was curious and wanted to know why I did not work for the California DFG or the USFWS. I told him because "I will not lie about these eagles and other species on behalf of corporate interests. When you work for these agencies this is what you have to do. I figured this out right out of college."
While he was talking I was shown dozens of eagle carcass images. I commented about how many of these images he had and that the industry does their best to keep them away from the public. He then added that the wind company had thousands of similar images.
Thousands of these images from one wind farm?
Thousands of these images from one wind farm?
This really got my attention. So did an incredible number of eagle carcasses he told me were found in one terrible month. The numbers of eagles he told me about far exceeded the monthly total reported from every one of wind farms at Altamont Pass Resource Area. I happen to be aware of these reported numbers because the USFWS gave them to me up through August 2015. The number given to me equaled the 3 month eagle carcass total for all of Altamont during the same time period.
Enlisting help from the USFWS
I know retired a USFWS agent named Sam Jojola. I trust him and respect his opinion so I contacted him about this meeting. I told him about the high number of eagle carcasses. He insisted that if true, it was not only criminal but there needed to be an investigation. So Sam put me in contact with a very good agent he said could be trusted.
Sam also warned me: "Every time a writer, journalist, reporter, etc., contacts ANY USFWS agent about a wildlife investigative issue, that agent has to immediately seek approval after the bureaucrats in D.C. get the details and the nature of the query."
I made contact this agent without giving any specific details. I insisted that if there were to be an investigation that this person would have to be granted full immunity because this would likely ruin his life. I also insisted that a single question be answered that would prove to me the USFWS would not deliberately conduct a bogus investigation.
I wanted to know the highest total of eagle carcasses reported by a single US wind farm company over the last two years. I did not want to know a name or location. I wanted this number to compare and I figured the wind Tech's eagle carcass would easily be much higher. It would also mean there was a legitimate case. to investigate. But if the question could not be answered, then there is no case anyway because the data in USFWS books is being concealed by the Interior Department would not be used as evidence anyway
Apparently all this did not meet the approval of Interior Department superiors because it has now been over 8 weeks and I was told they would not answer that question.
At this point the question means nothing anyway because with no promise of immunity, there could still be no investigation. This guarantee is vital for full cooperation and to keep evidence from disappearing.
Without immunity this wind tech could also be held accountable for breaking company gag orders and be prosecuted for the wind industry's seldom enforced carcasses reporting laws. But if granted full immunity from prosecution, this would encourage others I was told about, with similar stories, to come forward.
I did not take the images but I do hope they will one day be used as evidence in a legitimate investigation into a wind industry's culture of hiding carcasses.
I very much appreciate the courage it took for this wind tech came forward. I was already aware that this culture existed within the industry from reading their bogus research, but what I did not realize was the potential numbers of carcasses that have been hidden and the burden this activity places on some employees.
In order to find the truth about wind farm mortality one must first get past the industry's confidentially or non disclosure agreements. It seems everyone connected to the wind industry must sign them including researchers. As a result of these agreements nothing stated by these people can ever be trusted to be true because information is being filtered.
It is a disgrace that the wind industry researchers and wind energy employees have to sign confidentiality agreements. This is not the CIA. It is a highly profitable, but rinky-dink source of energy killing off precious wildlife species. But most importantly with these confidentiality agreements, there is no science because truthfulness and objectivity is lost. How can the truth be disclosed when what you say has to meet with the approval of your employer? How can the truth be told when the true scientist can not even design their own studies? Omitting facts and knowledge is supposed to be OK with one of these agreements but I consider it a form of fraud.
For many reasons there has not ever been one scientifically sound mortality study conducted for over 30 years around the propeller style wind turbine. One of the primary reasons is that wind personnel have always been allowed to interfere.
Since 1997 over 31,000 unaccounted for eagle carcasses have been shipped to the Interior Department's Denver Eagle Repository. How many more eagles killed by wind turbines were never reported or shipped?