As part of its ongoing efforts to protect birds that nest or perch near energized electrical equipment, The Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., completed proactive work along power lines at Redwood Elementary School in Avon Lake, Ohio, where young eagles often rest for short periods of time.
The company installed a tall wooden extension atop a utility pole that will provide a safer perching location for the birds away from energized equipment. In addition, nearby power lines were insulated to ensure the birds' safety if they make accidental contact with the wires.
"This project is a testament to the value of working closely with our local communities and residents who serve as the company's eyes and ears to report avian concerns, like dangerous perching habits, that would otherwise likely go undetected," said Amy Ruszala, an environmental scientist and avian expert at FirstEnergy. "When community members alert us to these types of concerns, we're able to take swift action to prevent an accident that is out of our control."
FirstEnergy's environmental team and utility personnel routinely inspect power equipment, like utility poles, substations and transmission towers, for bird nests. When a nest is located on or near electrical equipment, the company works with state and federal wildlife officials to either relocate the nest if it poses an immediate threat to the birds or remove it when the birds are south for the winter.
While the eagle nest in Avon Lake was not situated on or near electrical equipment, residents within the community contacted The Illuminating Company when they noticed young eaglets learning to fly taking breaks on a utility pole near the school, putting them near energized power lines that jeopardized their safety. Within days, utility personnel installed temporary rubber bird guard coverings on the power lines to insulate the wires until they had materials on hand to perform the final work.
Over the past five years, FirstEnergy and its electric companies have completed more than 100 projects to protect birds of prey, like eagles and ospreys. The work includes installing large, wooden nesting platforms or perch arms near electrical equipment where birds prefer to nest or temporarily rest, insulating power lines near perch or nest locations and adding large, bright visual markers on power lines to alert birds to the wires.
FirstEnergy and The Illuminating Company have worked together to enhance avian protection efforts, including the implementation of drones to complete bird nest inspections and deployment of a mobile app that allows utility personnel to report avian issues in real time, streamlining the process to protect nesting birds and enhance electric service reliability. These ongoing efforts continue to help reduce power outages caused by nesting birds.