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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