December 11, 2017
Each spring ospreys return to the Outer Banks to nest on the old transmission towers alongside the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge, but the wooden platforms that once provided a safe nesting place have deteriorated over the years, leaving only three useable platforms out of the original twelve.
Dominion Energy installed wooden nesting platforms on the inactive towers several years ago, providing an alternative to ospreys nesting on the nearby active lines, which pose electrocution dangers for the birds and risk potential widespread power outages in the Outer Banks. Over the years, the weather took its toll, and Dominion’s wooden nesting platforms fell into disrepair, leaving only three dilapidated nesting areas, when – at one time – all twelve were occupied by osprey families.
Demonstrating a commitment to wildlife protection, Dominion contacted Preformed Line Products looking for an innovative wildlife solution that would allow them to both protect the local ospreys and prevent nesting-related outages to their Outer Banks customers. Dominion wanted to remove the remaining nesting platforms – which were simple wooden frames with chain link fencing to support the nest – and replace them with a new product that was larger and more durable, but also cost-effective and easy to install, remove, or transfer, if necessary.
Preformed responded with the RAPTOR PROTECTOR™ Platform, a long-lasting and economical solution. The RAPTOR PROTECTOR Platform is constructed of strong – yet lightweight – corrosive-resistant aluminum. The Platform provides top and side pole-mounting options, with optional perch and retention posts on the Platform’s perimeter.
Dominion and PLP worked together to install a trial platform for ospreys that had been nesting on a transmission switching structure in Clarksville, Virginia. At the time of installation, a webcam was also installed near the Platform, providing Dominion and PLP with a live feed of the nest area. Over the next several months, Dominion and PLP watched as the RAPTOR PROTECTOR Platform proved to be a success.
“The nest in Clarksville was situated between two energized conductors on a switching structure, posing a serious threat to the ospreys,” said Mark Burns, market manager for Utility Distribution Products at Preformed Line Products. “Moving the nest onto our Platform and installing it in a safer location allowed us to protect the osprey family and provide a long-term home they can use for years to come.”
In March of 2017, the ospreys returned to the site of their old nest and immediately took to the Platform, nesting there, and hatching eggs in June. Pleased with the successful trial, Dominion placed an order for the Platforms, setting aside 12 for the Outer Banks project.
Preformed Line Products is proud to work with utility providers to design and manufacture innovative product solutions that protect wildlife and prevent power outages.
“Working together has been a success, testing and developing new products with one common vision,” said Carter Clevinger, Dominion project manager-Electric Transmission Reliability.
By the end of October, the ospreys occupying the existing Outer Banks platforms had left their nests and migrated for the winter, allowing Dominion to move forward with the installation of the durable RAPTOR PROTECTOR Platform. Prior to installing the Platforms, the remaining wooden platforms would need to be removed from the inactive towers, making every effort to encourage nesting by transferring the osprey’s old nesting material to the new Platforms.
The wooden osprey nest platforms, located on the arms of the old transmission towers, sit approximately 100 feet high and are surrounded by the waters of the Currituck Sound. Dominion assessed the towers and determined that the deteriorated concrete made the poles unsafe to climb. This assessment prompted Dominion to install the RAPTOR PROTECTOR Platforms by helicopter, utilizing a specialized installation service.
Once the specialized crew and the pre-assembled Platform had been lowered from the helicopter, the installation process took less than three minutes – showcasing the Platform’s intelligent design. To install the Platform, two workers – attached to the helicopter by a 75-foot tether – were lowered onto the transmission tower. After the crew was secure, the pre-assembled Raptor Protector Platform was lowered down to the workers, where it was installed quickly and easily. The helicopter and installation crew were provided by Air2, a helicopter-assisted service provider for utilities and contractors.
When the ospreys return to the Outer Banks in the spring of 2018, they won’t return to their usual three dilapidated wooden nesting platforms. Instead, they will find twelve new, sturdy aluminum platforms to nest and raise their young, encouraging growth in this still-protected species. As they travel across the Wright Brothers Memorial Bridge, Outer Banks visitors and residents alike will be pleased to see the crumbling platforms gone – replaced with PLP’s sleek and strong Platforms. The travelers will enjoy watching as osprey families thrive again – nesting, hatching eggs, and raising their young in a safe environment – all the while preventing widespread power outages in the Outer Banks. By working together as a team, Dominion Energy, Air2, and Preformed Line Products implemented a wildlife solution that benefits all – preventing power outages to the Outer Banks and not only protecting ospreys – but allowing them to thrive.
The RAPTOR PROTECTOR Platform is the newest addition to our Wildlife Protection Products. PLP is committed to designing products that protect wildlife, reduce customer outages, and prevent costly revenue losses and regulatory fines. In addition to nest protection, PLP offers several different visibility enhancement devices, such as the BIRD FLIGHT™ Diverter, protective covers like the RAPTOR PROTECTOR™, and a variety of other products, including perch deterrents.
For additional information contact:
Robin Bartlett, Product Support Specialist
Written By: Suzanne Sobolewski