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The California Energy Commission has voted 3-0 to approve voluntary guidelines designed to reduce the number of bird and bat deaths from wind turbines. Titled "California Guidelines for Reducing Impacts to Birds and Bats from Wind Energy Development," the document makes 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 commission says.

More than 80 interested parties, including representatives from the wind industry, resource agencies, environmental groups and other nongovernmental organizations, utilities, county planning departments and elected officials, universities and research institutes, contributed to the development of the guidelines. The commission adds that the protocols in the guidelines are adaptable in order to accommodate the specifics of each wind farm site's frequency and type of bird and bat use, terrain and availability of scientifically accepted data from nearby sources.

"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," says John Geesman, energy commissioner.

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