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Avian protection plan

 Every spring golden eagles soar across parts of our service territory. Thanks to a national collaboration that started more than three decades ago resulting in guidance documents prepared by the Edison Electric Institute’s Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), NorthWestern Energy has a program in place to reduce the risk of an eagle striking a powerline or being electrocuted.
We followed the APLIC Avian Protection Plan Guidelines to develop a company-specific Avian Protection Plan (APP). The APP applies to all of utility operations but in particular focuses on overhead electric lines. In accordance with the APP, we build new lines and retrofit existing lines with bird protection devices to meet APLIC recommended guidelines in areas likely to attract birds, reducing the risk of electrocutions. We also focus on isolating or insulating energized grounded equipment and wires.
Like almost all utilities, we have more miles of existing power lines than new power lines, meaning our greatest risk is that current structures lack adequate clearance to protect birds. Options we use include reframing to raptor friendly standards, installing protective covers on equipment pole-top equipment and sections of line.
We reduce the risk of bird and line collisions by siting new lines to avoid areas preferred by birds especially near wetlands. We also install linemarking devices on new and existing lines to increase visibility of the lines and reframe or redesign lines as appropriate.
Unfortunately, power poles offer nesting opportunities for large birds like osprey. The nests may cause outages, resulting in a flashover that could cause a nest fire and even a wildfire. NorthWestern Energy has installed hundreds of separate osprey platforms to protect the electric system and provide the large raptors with a safe place to nest.
As recommended in APLIC guidance documents, we collect information on bird mortalities on our system. This allows us to identify problem configurations, evaluate the effectiveness and employ changes as needed to reduce the risk of additional bird mortalities.

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