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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions > Wind Power for Alternative Energy Sourcing

Guidelines to Reduce Bird Deaths at California Wind Farms

Wind installation guidelines to address local and regional wildlife protection concerns and accommodate unique, site-specific conditions.

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Guidelines to reduce bird and bat deaths at wind turbines

The California Energy Commission has approved voluntary guidelines to help reduce bird and bat deaths at wind turbines. The guidelines are meant to protect wildlife as the state moves to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

"These voluntary guidelines are designed to help local and regional officials who issue permits for wind-energy projects," said Energy Commissioner John Geesman. "We very much need to accelerate the development of wind energy in California, and these guidelines are meant to allow this progress while being sensitive to potential negative impacts on birds and bats."

Wildlife Protection and Wind Energy Development

Entitled "California Guidelines for Reducing Impacts to Birds and Bats from Wind Energy Development," the voluntary guidelines make recommendations to counties and cities that review and license wind farms and permit the replacement of old wind turbines with larger, more efficient ones.

The Energy Commission and the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) worked together to develop the science-based guidelines during the last 16 months through a series of workshops. Input was gathered from wind energy developers, environmental groups, cities and counties, and interested public participants.

"While wind energy is a renewable source and less environmentally detrimental than other sources in many respects, it is not without its impacts to wildlife," said Acting DFG Director John McCamman. "Birds, particularly raptors, are a diverse and unique California resource and their protection and conservation is an important part of the department's resource trust responsibility. Our goal in participating in the development of these voluntary guidelines is to increase awareness of the impacts and provide guidance designed to reduce them."

California Environmental Quality Act and Wildlife Laws

The guidelines provide information about what is needed to satisfy the California Environmental Quality Act and to address other laws, including state and federal wildlife laws, the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the state and federal endangered species acts.

Information in the guidelines was specifically designed to address local and regional concerns and accommodate unique, site-specific conditions. The protocols in the guidelines are adaptable in order to accommodate the specifics of each site's frequency and type of bird and bat use, terrain, and availability of scientifically accepted data from nearby sources.

More than 80 interested parties, including representatives from wind industry, resource agencies, environmental groups and other non-governmental organizations, utilities, county planning departments and elected officials, universities and research institutes participated in these public events and/or submitted written comments on the guidelines.

The 165-document is posted on the Energy Commission's Web site:

DOWNLOAD PDF (Sept. 2007 - Acrobat PDF file, 165 pgs., 7.2 megabytes).

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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