SCL has developed an Avian Protection Program (APP) to protect and conserve migratory birds by reducing the risks that result from avian contact with utility facilities. The measures incorporated into the APP are based on guidelines developed collaboratively between the electrical utility industry and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enable utilities to improve reliability while being responsible stewards to the environment. Guidelines for avian protection are described in documents prepared by the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) and the USFWS.
All native migratory bird species are protected in the SCL service territory and near its generation and transmission facilities. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits the killing of these species of birds. Bald eagles are also protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Not only are bird deaths from electrocution on above-ground power distribution systems and collision with distribution and transmission lines considered "Take" under the MTBA but the events also result in unplanned disruption of electrical service and increase the cost of providing power to SCL customers. Through the efforts of SCL in adding avian protection measures, the number of known avian deaths has declined from a high of 602 in 1988 to 204 in 2008. Crows account for about 92 percent of these events.
Bold = unprotected species
SCL is continuing to implement the APP to:
- Track and monitor bird-related power outages and bird kills
- Assess effectiveness of mitigation measures aimed at preventing or reducing electrocutions (installing perch deterrents, providing alternative nest structures for osprey, adding insulation on wires, providing adequate space between electrical lines for large wing spans, developing design standards for new construction, and retrofits to avoid bird electrocutions, collisions, and inappropriate nesting on utility structures)
- Train field personnel on appropriate protocols and reporting for outages, identification of protected species, and handling of dead birds and problem nests
- Identify and prioritize future retrofitting activities through risk assessment in the service area
- Coordinate with USFWS on avian issues and compliance