least one of our concentrated solar power plants was found to have elevated levels of certain regulated thermal fluids, indicating the possibility of a leak of such fluids at the site. We are working with local regulators, as well as the site’s previous owner, to investigate the situation and determine the cause of the elevated levels of the thermal fluids. While there is no enforcement action against us at this time, there is no assurance that we will not face liability for this incident in the future.
In addition, certain environmental, health and safety laws may result in liability for failure to comply with periodic reporting and other administrative requirements and, regardless of fault, concerning contamination at a range of properties, including properties currently or formerly owned, leased or operated by us and properties where we disposed of, or arranged for disposal of, waste and other hazardous materials. In addition, with an increasing global focus and public sensitivity to environmental sustainability and environmental regulation becoming more stringent, we could also be subject to increasing environmental related responsibilities and associated liability. Environmental legislation and permitting requirements may evolve in a manner which will require stricter standards and enforcement, increased fines and penalties for non-compliance, more stringent environmental assessments of proposed projects and a heightened degree of responsibility for companies and their directors and employees. As such, the operation of our facilities carries an inherent risk of environmental liabilities, and may result in our involvement from time to time in administrative and judicial proceedings relating to such matters. These changes may result in increased costs to our operations and may have an adverse impact on prospects for growth of our business. While we have implemented environmental management and health and safety programs designed to continually improve environmental, health and safety performance, there is no assurance that such liabilities including significant required capital expenditures, as well as the costs for complying with environmental laws and regulations, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Harming of protected species can result in curtailment of wind power plant operations, monetary fines and negative publicity.
The operation of wind power plants can adversely affect endangered, threatened or otherwise protected animal species. Wind power plants, in particular, involve a risk that protected species will be harmed, as the turbine blades travel at a high rate of speed and may strike flying animals (such as birds or bats) that happen to travel into the path of spinning blades.
Our wind power plants are known to strike and kill flying animals, and occasionally strike and kill endangered or protected species. As a result, we expect to observe industry guidelines and comply with regulator approved incidental take permits and governmentally recommended best practices to avoid harm to protected species, such as avoiding structures with perches, avoiding guy wires that may kill birds or bats in flight, or avoiding lighting that may attract protected species at night. In addition, we will attempt to reduce the attractiveness of a site to predatory birds through regular site maintenance (e.g., mowing, removal of animal and bird carcasses, etc.).
Where possible, we will obtain permits for incidental taking of protected species. We hold such permits for some of our wind power plants, particularly in Hawaii, where several species are endangered and protected by law. We are monitoring the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service rulemaking and policy about obtaining incidental take permits for bald and golden eagles at locations with low to moderate risk of such events and will seek permits as appropriate, and continue to monitor rulemaking for other species. We are also in the process of amending the incidental take permits for one wind power plant in Hawaii, where, based on standardized monitoring, endangered species mortality has exceeded prior estimates and the permitted limit on such takings. We are cooperating with federal and state agencies to amend our incidental take permits to come into compliance.
Excessive taking of protected species could result in requirements to implement mitigation strategies, including modification of operations and/or substantial monetary fines and negative publicity. Our wind power plants in Hawaii, several of which hold incidental take permits to authorize the incidental taking of small numbers of protected species, are subject to curtailment (i.e., reduction in operations) if excessive taking of protected species is detected through monitoring. At some of the facilities in Hawaii, curtailment has been implemented, but not at levels that materially reduce electricity generation or revenues. Such curtailments (to protect bats) have reduced nighttime operation and limited operation to times when wind speeds are high enough to prevent bats from flying into a wind power plant’s blades. Additional curtailments are possible at those locations. We cannot guarantee that such curtailments, any monetary fines that are levied or negative publicity that we receive as a result of incidental taking of protected species will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Risks that are beyond our control, including but not limited to acts of terrorism or related acts of war, natural disasters, hostile cyber intrusions, theft or other catastrophic events, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.