• Avian Protection

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    Pepco Holdings' comprehensive Avian Protection program aims to minimize the potential for bird electrocution or collision with our overhead towers, poles and wires infrastructure. The goals of this program are to:     

    • Reduce the impact of bird encounters with power lines
    • Ensure compliance with federal and state requirements for the protection of birds
    • Improve the reliability of the electric system

    As part of the Avian Protection program, we maintain and implement customized Avian Protection plans so that management and field personnel are provided with tools to protect against and manage bird encounters with the utility system. These plans address regulatory compliance procedures and training programs, and identify specific construction design standards for avian safety.  

    Throughout 2013, we implemented a number of recommendations to reduce the risk to birds and improve the understanding of avian issues in the utility industry. We delivered nine internal training sessions and offered 14 education opportunities to a diverse set of stakeholders across New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware and Maryland. These events provided hands-on opportunities for children and adults of all ages to learn more about our strategies to protect birds.  

    Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Partnership

    Pepco Holdings established a valuable partnership with Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, a bird rescue, rehabilitation and research organization headquartered in Newark, Del. In 2013, PHI provided much-needed funding to replace a raptor rehabilitation cage.

    For over 30 years, Tri-State has maintained a state-of-the-art facility that meets the needs of thousands of wild birds that are brought in for treatment every year. Tri-State is one of the largest rehabilitators in the PHI service territory, and has a national and international presence. Pepco Holdings partners and coordinates with Tri-State on many levels. They take in birds that have come into contact with power lines or have been injured by electrical equipment. They rehabilitate birds that our field workers find injured for any reason on our property, and they help with nest relocations.

    Tri-State cares for over 150 species of injured, orphaned or oiled wild birds on its Newark campus. Once a bird is examined, stabilized and treated, it is housed in the appropriate caging. One complex of raptor rehabilitation cages, built in 1989, had reached the end of its life cycle and needed to be replaced. Newly replaced in 2013, the cage complex is used for smaller raptors such as screech owls, kestrels and sharp-shinned hawks as they are prepared to be returned to the wild.

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    Transmission Construction Projects

    An integral part of our Avian Protection program is the strategic review of transmission and distribution construction projects for potential hazards to local and migratory birds. Each construction project is carefully examined using a geographic information system to conduct a spatially-based desktop analysis. This process identifies spans that pose a collision risk to large birds such as waterfowl, herons and swans that may travel across rivers, lakes, marshes and other water bodies between roosting and foraging areas. Line markers, such as spiral bird diverters, are installed on the tallest conductors, often by helicopter, to increase the visibility of the line to birds and reduce the potential for collisions.

    Avian Protection on a New Jersey Transmission Line Rebuild

    During 2013, Atlantic City Electric performed a transmission line rebuild project in Salem County, N.J. Of specific concern during this project was the potential disruption of bald eagle flight paths, behavior and nesting. A qualified biologist from a third-party environmental firm was hired to monitor the transmission line construction and bald eagle activity on a daily basis. The monitoring effort included detailed tracking of all bald eagle flight paths observed, and it identified a new bald eagle nesting location in the area. Weekly monitoring summaries were submitted to the New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Endangered and Nongame Species program, and a final comprehensive report of all monitoring activities and findings was submitted upon project completion. The environmental monitor concluded that the construction did not appear to disturb the bald eagles in any way; it did not disrupt their normal feeding, breeding or resting behavior on or near the project site. The transmission line was built with strict adherence to avian protection standards, including installation of Bird Flight Diverters on the static (uppermost) line to reduce the potential for avian collision, and adequate separation of conductors to reduce potential for avian electrocution.  

    Emergency Hardening of Transmission Line in a New Jersey Tidal Marsh  

    During routine helicopter flight inspections, Atlantic City Electric identified an existing transmission line serving Absecon Island, N.J., as having immediate reliability concerns due to leaning poles in tidal marsh habitat. The emergency project involved putting in low-impact wetland matting to access the line in order to install select pole replacements and guy wires. The active nest of a ground-nesting bird, Clapper rail (Rallus longirostris), was observed in close proximity to the wetland matting. The breeding pair was present at the nest, which also contained a clutch of 12 eggs. Clapper rails are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. To protect the breeding pair and nest, Atlantic City Electric implemented a number of mitigation strategies. An additional row of mats was installed to divert construction vehicles away from the nest location, and orange fencing was installed to provide a barrier for traffic. Double-row, silt fencing was installed immediately adjacent to the wetland matting to prevent any siltation of the nest and to screen the nest from construction traffic to prevent disturbance during incubation. All contractors working on the project were told about the nest location and to implement certain avoidance measures. A third party environmental monitor was present to monitor the nest for the project duration, including the removal of the matting upon completion of the project. The project was successfully completed prior to hatching of the brood.