The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Avian Power Line Interaction committee (APLIC), the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) yesterday announced a joint initiative to encourage utilities to take additional steps to reduce the number of birds that are injured or killed as a result of coming into contact with power lines.

Under the terms of the agreement, electric power companies are urged to develop and implement Avian Protection Plans (APPs), utility-specific programs designed to protect and conserve migratory birds by reducing the damage caused by avian interactions with electric utility facilities.

"For an electric utility, launching a comprehensive, long-term APP is not just good for the environment, it's good for business," said Quin Shea, executive director, environment, EEI. "Outages that occur as a result of birds and other animals coming into contact with power lines or electric infrastructure are costly to both customers and the companies themselves."

Since its formation in 1989, the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) has served as a clearinghouse for information and communication on avian and power line issues. With a membership base composed of EEI, more than twenty utilities and numerous research and trade associations, APLIC has worked with the electric power industry and the USFWS to devise construction design and line siting standards to curtail avian injuries and deaths.

"Today's signing of the Avian Protection Plan Guidelines is a shining example of what can be accomplished when industry and the Fish and Wildlife Service roll up their sleeves and work together on a project," said Florida Power & Light Principal Biologist and APLIC Chair Jim Lindsay.

Building on the success of previous initiatives, this EEI-endorsed program comprises a number of methodologies to accomplish this mission. These steps include corporate commitment to protect migratory birds, training in avian protection, permit compliance, risk assessment, mortality reduction measures and public awareness and education, among others.

Moreover, these voluntary principles and guidelines are designed to allow utilities to tailor an APP to best match their specific industrial and wildlife needs, which will not only promote bird conservation but improve system reliability as well.

"In EEI's view, this set of principles functions as a 'tool box' that our members can draw from to protect migratory birds and their electric infrastructure," Shea noted. "I am confident that, working in conjunction with APLIC and its partners, the electric power sector's conservation efforts will yield solid, measurable results across the country."