The California Guidelines for Reducing Impacts to Birds and Bats from Wind Energy Development (Guidelines) was completed by the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Fish and Game in October 2007. The Guidelines were developed to address coexisting and sometimes conflicting objectives to encourage wind development in the state while minimizing and mitigating harm to birds and bats. The stated objectives of the Guidelines are to provide information and protocols for assessing, evaluating, and determining the effects of wind energy projects on bird and bat species and to develop and recommend impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures. The Guidelines describe methods of assessing bird and bat impacts associated with wind projects in California. The Guidelines assert that the state of knowledge about bird and bat interaction is reflected in the document, and that ongoing and future research will refine, expand, and alter this knowledge (p. 4).
Coupled with development of the Guidelines, the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program has an objective to support further research that will increase the accuracy of the methods and metrics of assessing and mitigating potential impacts to birds and bats from wind development.
Recognizing the need to strengthen the scientific foundation of the Guidelines, the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) commissioned this scientific review to evaluate and document the major bases for the recommended studies in the Guidelines. The major review objectives follow:
- To provide CalWEA with an understanding of the scientific bases of the Guidelines.
- To assist PIER in developing its research road map for bird and bat interactions with wind energy facilities as related to the Guidelines.
In addition to identifying the scientific underpinnings of the Guidelines' recommendations (or lack thereof), this review considers the importance of these issues for implementing the Guidelines, examines what the recent literature says on the subject, and proposes research that would provide insight into the issues.
This review of the Guidelines is focused on the methods recommended in the Guidelines and does not attempt to provide an exhaustive review of the literature. To support this scientific review of the Guidelines, two major literature reviews published just after the Guidelines were published were searched: the National Research Council (NRC) 2007 Report on Environmental Impacts of Wind Projects and the 2007 Review for the Canadian Wildlife Service by Kingsley and Whittam. Citations provided in the Guidelines were also reviewed.