Stop Solar Plant from Killing Thousands of Birds


Target: Charlton Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Goal: Reduce significant number of bird deaths caused by solar plant

A solar plant in California has recently come under scrutiny after estimates were released as to the number of birds that are killed each year by the heat it creates. Alternative energy is a wonderful solution for a growing problem, especially in places like Nevada where sunlight is abundant, but the ultimate goal is to improve the environment, which cannot happen if the alternative is killing off large populations of wildlife. This must stop immediately.

The BrightSource Energy Plant in near Ivanpah Dry Lake, California consists mainly of a field of 300,000 mirrors, which generate enough energy to provide electricity to 140,000 homes. It also happens to kill thousands of birds with the heat the mirrors generate. Investigators are working to determine the full extent of the deaths. Estimates currently range from about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert working for the Center for Biological Diversity. Workers at the solar plant call the birds that fly through the concentrated rays beaming from the mirrors “steamers,” because smoke literally plumes off of them as they ignite and burn up. Investigators who recently visited the plant reported that on average a “steamer” occurred every two minutes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are attempting to calculate a death toll for a full year of operation before making any decisions. Until then, they have halted an application BrightSource submitted to increase the size of the plant with a 75-story power tower near Joshua Tree National Park. The proposed plant lies on flight path of more than 100 species of birds, including golden eagles, between the Colorado River and the Salton Sea. BrightSource Vice President Joseph Desmond continues to argue that energy sources will always be fraught with a long list of pros and cons, but the point of alternative energy technology is to curb the environmental impact human consumption has on the world. This can’t happen if thousands of birds are dying each year.

Please sign the petition below and demand that BrightSource find a way to reduce its impact on the environment and protect birds from being harmed by its power stations.


Dear Director Bonham,

The BrightSource Energy solar power plant in Ivanpah Dry Lake is responsible for killing thousands of birds. Biologists working with the Center for Biological diversity estimate as many as 28,000 each year perish. Concentrated sunlight reflecting off of the plant’s 300,000 mirrors produces so much heat that birds ignite and burn up as they fly past.

Alternative energy sources are meant to curb human impact on our natural environment. Reducing the carbon footprint of 140,000 homes is little consolation if the means through which it happens simultaneously destroys enormous populations of wildlife. Please make BrightSource find a way to protect the birds of California and Nevada and reduce its impact on the environment.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: nnsanews via Flickr

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  1. Peter Simmons says:

    Trouble is, are you also aware that millions of birds are also killed each year by … windows. They don’t see them and fly into them. I’ve experienced it a couple of times, not much can be done except put net curtains up. Maybe a law to make net curtains compulsory?
    Then there are the power cables and pylons, responsible for yet more bird deaths, as are coal fired power stations. There are no end of rosks to birds, we intrude into their space. I partially compensate by feeding them, helping them to breed successfully and compensate for losses. But wild animals face a multitude of risks, and we mustn’t fall for the hype of the anti-renewables, anti climate change Nimbys who also claim wind turbines kill millions of birds, except they don’t, data from sites on dead birds shows very few are so slow and clumsy they don’t see massive slow-moving blades coming. On migration routes for large birds, they obviously pose a danger, otherwise, it’s all propaganda. So I’m unconvinced solar farms kill more birds than anything else, and consider this petition illogical and lacking in proof.

  2. caryl sawyer says:

    Well, Dumbutts, how are we supposed to support solar energy when you morons do stuff like this? You idiots are alienating the very people who are your biggest fans.

  3. I have heard of this type of power generation its like taking a mirror and let the sun hit it to create heat that will cause a fire. When the birds fly into this group of mirrors they catch fire. They are burned alive as they fly along thinking what they see is reflections of water they are coming in for a landing thinking its a lake.

    This is killing thousands of birds, how did this company get a license and a environmental impact study that passed and let them build this bird killing monstrosity in the first place??? I wonder how many palms were greased under the table??

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