Natural beauty and abundant wildlife make Colorado a wonderful place to live. But they also mean we have to pay extra attention to wildlife safety, especially when a tall power pole looks like an attractive perch to a passing hawk or eagle.
In 2002, Longmont Power & Communications hired EDM International to evaluate our system for raptor safety. We then followed those detailed recommendations and even went beyond them, where we felt it necessary. These steps include:
- Widening the crossarms on electric poles, putting more distance between the power lines so that a raptor's wings are less likely to come in contact with them.
- Placing perch guards on the poles, to prevent raptors from landing on them.
- Placing bushing covers on our transformers and using insulated wire to protect birds -- or any other visiting creature -- from contacting live current.
- Continuing to evaluate our system, adding additional protection measures as needed.
Some situations require a solution all their own. Ospreys, for example, are very particular about their nesting sites and very stubborn. So when we found a nest on one of our poles, the first thing we did was de-energize the line until the birds left, to protect both them and our service. Because LPC “loops” its electric network, we were able to do this without having any of our customers lose power.
We then placed a pole and platform a short distance from the line to give the birds a better nesting location.
We have also built nesting structures above the energized line when necessary to keep the birds out of the way.
Birds are not the only sort of wildlife we take into consideration. Squirrels are also a regular visitor to any electric system and a challenging one. One of the steps we take to try to keep them away from dangerous areas (and avoid having them cause an outage) is to place a two-foot plastic collar midway up our poles. The plastic is slick enough to keep a squirrel from getting a secure grip and wide enough to keep them from easily jumping the barrier.
These extra steps help us keep Longmont’s electric system dependable to our customers and safer for our “neighbors.”