Avian Solar Work Group (ASWG) 

July 16, 2019 

 Dr. Ryan J. Harrigan 
Center for Tropical Research 
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability 
University of California, Los Angeles 
La Kretz Hall Suite 300 
619 Charles E. Young Drive East 
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496 

 Dear Dr. Harrigan: 

We are pleased to provide this letter of support for your grant proposal 
entitled: “Building a Framework to Genetically Characterize ‘feather 
spots’ and Understand Demographic Impacts of Solar Energy Sites on 
Migratory Bird Populations” to be submitted to the U.S. Department of 
Energy. Your proposed innovative research using modern genomic 
techniques and network modeling will greatly enhance informed decisions 
for solar energy development and operations.   

As you are aware, the Avian Solar Working Group (ASWG) is comprised 
of representatives of environmental organizations and the utility-scale PV 
industry, with advice from academics, convened to advance independent 
and coordinated scientific research to better understand how birds interact 
with solar facilities. The proposed research addresses several important 
research recommendations laid out in our 2017 Avian Solar Working 
Group Research Questions Framework (Framework). These include:  

1) Characterizing “feather spots” recovered at solar facilities to identify 
the species and individuals represented by each biological sample, and;  

 2) Integrating these and other data in a method that combines genetic 
identification with demographic data to evaluate risks of solar energy sites 
to avian populations. 

 The ASWG strives to understand the potential impacts to migratory birds 
by large scale solar in order to ensure solar projects are both commercially 
viable and environmentally friendly. We understand the proposed research 
will enhance the understanding of how feather spots data should be used 
and interpreted, which could lead to a better understanding of possible 
impacts on species and populations. Such data has the potential to reduce 
overall costs in monitoring large scale solar facilities. In addition, 
identification of biological material recovered from solar facilities will 
provide a more complete mortality report by reducing the number of 
“unknown” samples, which could aid in reducing the additional monitoring requested by permitting agencies. The ASWG also enthusiastically supports the development of a fee-for-use service at UCLA capable of archiving and processing genetic samples at low costs.  

 Specifically, the members of the ASWG agree to support the proposed research by contributing to one or more of the following:  

 1) Collecting and making available biological material from “feather spots” recovered from the solar facilities represented by the group;  

 2) Collaborating in general with the research team to further this research initiative, such as participation in technical advisory committees or reviewing research findings and milestones; 

3) Providing financial support (in an amount to be determined before the project period begins) to assist in the collection, processing, and preservation of samples collected at solar energy facilities. 

 In summary, we fully support the proposed research proposal by UCLA for the development of an efficient, cost-effective way to characterize “feather spots” recovered at solar facilities, and if applicable, to use the collected information to better understand the potential impacts that utility scale solar may have 
on migratory bird populations. We believe this work will contribute substantially to the mission of the ASWG, as well as achieve the goals set forth by the Department of Energy in its call for proposals.   


Avian Solar Work Group 

Avian Solar Work Group