On behalf of the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission), the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) conducted a peer review - with a primary focus on statistics - of the following report submitted to the Energy Commission: "Developing Methods to Reduce Bird Mortality in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area," prepared by K. Shawn Smallwood and Carl Thelander.
CIEE first prepared a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and used its main mailing list and other list servers to distribute the RFQ. A Peer Review Selection Committee reviewed four proposals and selected three teams of reviewers. The peer review teams submitted preliminary peer review reports that were reviewed by the authors of the report (Smallwood and Thelander). The authors provided a detailed response to the peer review reports. After reviewing the authors' response, the peer reviewers finalized their reports. The key findings from the final peer reviews are presented in this report. The peer reviews are attached (Attachments A-C), along with the authors' response (Attachment D).
In general, all of the reviewers were explicit in pointing out that the authors had taken on an important issue and had done a credible job with the resources that were available to them. The original report was clearly an exploratory study meant to set the stage for future work in this area. As such, the report serves to provide a basis for continuing research on the topic of avian/wind turbine interactions. The report should not, however, be considered as the basis for developing siting requirements for future wind energy projects. It is clear from the peer reviewers' comments that there are significant problems with this paper and that additional studies are needed. The positive aspects of the report, coupled with the constructive criticism of the reviewers, could form the basis of future work to better define siting requirements and guidelines that should be put in place by permitting agencies. As the reviewers noted, it will be important to evaluate the model developed in the original study with new wind projects. Future research will need to minimize some of the confounding problems in the reviewed study, since remaining disagreements require additional research for their resolution. Also, utilizing new data sets will better serve to determine whether the model is effective. If not, the results should suggest improvements to the model that would help in its function as a predictive tool. More research is needed to identify the causes of collisions and what measures need to be taken to reduce mortality caused by wind turbines.