Big Bird. Big Concerns. Bigger Solution.

National Grid teams coordinate to protect electric service – from ospreys

National Grid transmission tower near Whitehall, NY

National Grid transmission tower near Whitehall, NY.

Ospreys migrate back from their wintering grounds in South America to North America each year. Large birds with a wingspan up to six feet, they also build large nests out of branches and twigs (and, according to our crews, even a stray golf club!). Their nests can be much larger than six feet and about two to three feet deep.

At the same time ospreys are building nests, thousands of National Grid customers are walking through their homes, turning lights on, charging their mobile devices and getting ready for their day.

What do these two things have in common? Ospreys look for the highest point near open water to build their homes so they can get a good view of the fish they catch for their meals. Coincidentally, National Grid has many tall structures — including transmission towers — near open water. When ospreys nest on our equipment, it may cause power interruptions that affected customers rarely suspect is related to the seasonal activities of a prehistoric-looking bird.

In some locations, the matter gets even more complicated.

National Grid crews work to replace insulators, relocate osprey nest on transmission tower near Whitehall, NY

In the North Country region of our eastern division in New York state, National Grid operates a radial transmission line that serves about 10,000 customers, including International Paper, a large paper manufacturer whose operations depend on reliable electric service. A radial transmission line means there is no backup line if an interruption occurs. When ospreys make their nests along a radial line, any resultant power outage lasts until our crews can get to the transmission tower and make the repair.

Over the winter, a National Grid team — electric transmission and distribution crews from multiple states, environmental employees and project managers, among others — collaborated to address the issue. This week, with winter snows melted, about 200 National Grid employees and contractors headed to the area around Whitehall, N.Y. to execute the plan.

National Grid crews near Whitehall, NY put osprey platform together. These platforms will serve as the new home for relocated nests.

Their work included accessing a small island and setting out temporary roads or pads that enabled our trucks to bring in equipment, including lifts to raise our skilled crews 160 feet overhead. Next came the installation of the 27 temporary generators needed to ensure uninterrupted electric service to customers over the course of the project. With the generators in place, the electric operations crew de-energized the radial line, allowing workers to safely relocate six osprey nests to safe, isolated  nesting platforms. The electric operations team also used the opportunity to replace insulators on seven transmission towers.

Local Eastern NY media interview National Grid Transmission Manager Jim Stoddard about osprey relocation project near Whitehall, NY.

National Grid teams work like this — safely, efficiently and effectively — every day, on different scales. We find environmentally sound solutions that keep the lights on and keep our employees, our customers and the public safe. In this case, we were able to tell the story to local media and others while in the process. Here are some links to some of the media coverage our efforts earned along the way: Albany Times Union, Glens Falls Post Star, WNYT NBC Channel 13, WTEN ABC Channel 10.

You can keep the story going by posting a link to this story on Yammer, Twitter, Facebook or wherever you might be online. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *