In 2015, Governor Brown signed the Climate Change Bill. The legislation requires 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy, including wind turbines.
Right now, about seven percent of California’s electricity comes from wind farms and that number is expected to increase. Wind turbines produce clean energy but our president is not a fan of wind power. He even commented on California wind power while on campaign in North Dakota.
"If you go to various places in California, wind is killing all the eagles," said Trump.
It’s no secret that Trump doesn’t like wind power. The eagle/wind turbine dilemma was the topic of numerous tweets over the year, but his beef with wind started in 2012 when Scotland wanted to put up some wind turbines near the golf course he owns. He even went before Scottish parliament to stop their construction.
"The people here, they don't want wind because it takes subsidies and kills massive amounts of wildlife," said Trump in 2012.
Trumps claims that "wind turbines kill birds" is not wrong. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates as many as 573,000 birds nationwide die every year from wind turbines. One of the deadliest areas for birds is Altamont Pass. More than 60 eagles have been reported killed by turbines since 2004.
The Obama administration took some heat over the eagle/wind turbine dilemma last year. Obama signed regulations allowing wind turbine companies to kill up to 4,200 eagles a year without penalty. The only condition was wind companies had to make bird safe turbines in the next 30 years.
One company in Calaveras County believes they have the answer to the turbine and bird death problem.
"Our vertical axis turbine is unique because they are bird and bat friendly, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing in rural areas," said Steve Divito. He is part owner of California Energy and Power and they are building non-traditional wind turbines. The blades move vertically instead of horizontally. It looks like a stern wheeler paddle turned on its side with one important modification -- it's equipped with a bird shield called a concentrator.
"The concentrator won't even allow the birds or bats to get into the blades. It also controls the wind speed," said Divito.
The science behind CEP's wind turbine isn't that complicated. The "concentrator" or bird shield acts like an airplane wing or an air foil which forces wind into the blades more efficiently.
"We can produce a lot more energy than existing turbines," said Divito.
The vertical access wind turbine has been tested at MIT laboratories. The large-scale prototype he is building now will be installed in the Bay Area next month. If field testing goes well, Trump may have a solution to the deadly turbine problem.
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