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  • Leveraging Our Strengths To Reduce Outages

    Providing our customers with reliable electricity while also protecting the natural environment is incredibly important to us. That’s why taking every possible measure to understand the causes and impacts of outages—and ultimately how to prevent them—is a priority for our teams around the world.

    In 2017, following an unusual pattern of outages impacting a section of two of our transmission lines in east central Alberta, our team began to suspect that raptors in the area were roosting on a specific location on the transmission structures, interfering with the delivery of essential electricity to our customers.

    To address the problem, Dan Vachon, Supervisor, Transmission Line Maintenance for the Vegreville region, brought a diverse team from ATCO together, including linemen, engineers and an environmental specialist, Keyra Hawley Yurchi. After conducting extensive research into the matter, Keyra confirmed their suspicion that birds’ excrement was causing transient outages. With Keyra providing the expertise in avian behavior and habitat, and Dan providing the technical knowledge, together they came up with a plan to install a hardware solution that would deter the birds from roosting and ensure that our customers continue to receive the electricity that they rely on.

    The team knew what was needed – a roosting and perching deterrent was necessary to keep hawks and other large raptors off the structures in these key areas and the material needed to be able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as high winds and freezing temperatures. When they discovered that there were no compatible products in the marketplace, the team put their heads together to develop their own design, and worked together with Power Line Sentry, a company that develops and manufactures powerline protection products, to create a product with an installation tool and manufacture the devices. Once complete, the devices were installed on the energized cicuit in just two and half days using a helicopter with a platform to increase installation speed, reduce field time and protect the delicate wetland area in certain locations along the power line.

    Since installation in mid-2018 results have exceeded expectations, with the section of line experiencing an 83% reduction in outages. We continue our relationship with Power Line Sentry, who are now building these devices for other companies and continue to work with us to improve our other avian protection tools. By bringing a team with diverse strengths together, we’ve provided a stronger solution for our customers while also ensuring that we are protecting the environment in the areas that we operate. 

    Learn more about our commitment to environmental stewardship.