For more than three decades, the utility industry, conservation groups, wildlife resource agencies and others have worked together to understand why and how birds collide with or are electrocuted by power lines. This is a growing concern as construction of transmission facilities and renewable energy facilities accelerates across the United States.
To reduce avian mortality, utilities have adopted voluntary company-specific Avian Protection Plans to mitigate the risks associated with bird interactions with electric facilities.
To reduce avian mortality, utilities have adopted voluntary company-specific Avian Protection Plans (APP) to mitigate the risks associated with bird interactions with electric facilities. AEP’s APP was completed in 2013, and we continue the process of implementation. The plan’s purpose is to reduce the incidences of bird electrocutions and collisions with AEP’s equipment, and to reduce the frequency of bird-caused outages.
We are also taking avian protection into account as we design and engineer new facilities. For example, the design of the BOLD® transmission line is shorter in stature than traditional transmission lines and structures. Benefits of this design include reduced nesting because of the curved arm, and reductions in both collisions and electrocutions, which are less likely with shorter transmission towers.
AEP manages interactions between birds and power lines through a system-wide program across our 11-state service territory, where a wide variety of bird species can be found. Currently, AEP’s primary challenge is on larger species that are more likely to be electrocuted in substations and on poles or to collide with towers and lines.
The APP has several key components:
- Employee training and compliance – We educate our employees and provide training on compliance with all federal and state laws. Our goal is to be proactive in preventing bird collisions and electrocutions.
- Construction design standards and mortality reduction measures – We have a process to incorporate bird safety into the design of new lines and facilities.
- Nest management and avian enhancement options – We apply bird-safety tactics such as installing a dedicated de-energized pole for bird nesting or bird diverters to keep them away from wires.
- Avian reporting systems and risk assessment methodologies – We continue to improve our monitoring and reporting capabilities to allow us to be more proactive.
- Public education – We promote the need for migratory bird and habitat conservation and work cooperatively with federal and state agencies and nonprofit organizations.