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How SCE Protects Wildlife

Southern California Edison’s Corporate Environmental Services group helps protect endangered species, manage toxic substances and preserve clean water and air. The group partners with Transmission & Distribution to support the company’s efforts to safely deliver reliable and affordable electricity, while ensuring compliance with federal and state environmental regulations.

The Avian Protection Program, for example, makes power lines safer for birds by providing greater spacing of wires or protective covers on distribution poles. Otherwise, a bird with a large wingspan could touch adjacent wires, electrocuting the bird and causing an interruption in the circuit. As old poles are retired, they are replaced by poles that meet this new construction standard.

During breeding season, February through August, bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (see the table) sometimes build nests in construction or maintenance areas. This can postpone work for days to months, because laws require non-critical work to halt until eggs hatch and fledglings leave the area. Corporate Environmental Services works with T&D and third-party experts to determine if it’s possible to apply mitigation measures, such as moving nests, so work can proceed, especially if postponing work would cause a safety hazard or a service disruption.

Ravens built a nest and laid eggs during the construction of a distribution line in Perris, Calif. Work stopped for approximately two and a half months until the eggs hatched and the chicks fledged and flew away.

Depending on geographical area, distribution pole construction standards now have wider recommended spacing of conductors and protective covers to prevent birds with wide wingspans from accidental electrocution.