BEND, OR -- Central Electric Cooperative has been building and installing custom platforms on power poles all over their 5,300 square mile territory, all for the benefit of local bird populations.
CEC has over 2,200 miles of overhead distribution lines, many near water, and Jeff Beaman, the Member Services Director, says protecting birds has always been a high priority. "Birds are an issue the utility industry has been dealing with, and aware of, and addressing, for decades. It goes back to the very early days in the 1940's when we first started. And, there are places and locations on every utility line where we needed to incorporate certain protective measures in order to reduce any kind of threat to the bird populations."
Beaman says the vast majority of concerns the utility company addresses are for osprey, as they tend to nest near water, but issues can arise with geese or other birds that have a wingspan of greater than three feet.
Beaman says the utility company has several practices for protecting local birds from power lines. "Sometimes, there are roosts put atop what are called cross-arms on power poles so a bird will land on and actually roost above a power line, and in other places, we will put a platform above the cross-arms to set their nest in place so it's not on top of the power lines."
According to Beaman, the best way to learn how to protect the birds is to follow their lead. "Many of the problem spots have been remedied in the past, and what we have to address now are when new locations present themselves. Essentially, the birds tell us where protections need to be installed. When we learn from the birds, or observers in the area, that we have an area where a platform nest would be helpful, then we go out and install in that place."
In addition to nesting platforms placed above cross-arms on the lines, CEC also installs perches, and configures cross-arm placement to increase the distance between electrical phases, which keeps the birds from being able to contact two lines at the same time.