Tampa Electric has completed a five-year retrofit Avian Protection Program (APP) designed to prevent large birds of prey from coming into contact with electrical infrastructure. The company, the first utility in Florida to establish a program to protect migratory birds, will continue to retrofit high-risk poles as they are identified.

Tampa Electric’s service territory is located amid one of Florida’s, and the nation’s, most important avian migration thruways and seasonal nesting sites for dozens of species of birds. The company’s Avian Protection Program has helped protect ospreys, hawks and other large birds from potential injury or death due to contact with power lines or other equipment.

Vice President of Energy Delivery Bill Whale said, “Our Avian Protection Program, which provides stewardship to protect bird species in our service territory, is one part of the company’s industry-leading environmental commitment.”

The overall goal of Tampa Electric’s APP is to identify potential danger areas for birds, based on field surveys conducted in 2003 within the company’s service territory, in order to retrofit electrical infrastructure to enhance the birds’ safety. This, combined with bird-safe new construction, will minimize electrocutions, equipment damage and associated outages.

During the five-year program, Tampa Electric has retrofitted and/or reconstructed almost 1200 poles in its service territory, primarily in the Polk County area, at a cost of approximately $800,000.

The APP has helped Tampa Electric accomplish the following:

  • Identify the species of raptors and other large at-risk birds that likely occupy or move through the service territory;
  • Document bird use typically associated with power lines and electrocution risks;
  • Develop raptor protection project maps identifying bird habitats and other data;
  • Identify particular areas exhibiting increased risk for bird electrocution and potential electrical outages;
  • Recommend appropriate equipment retrofits to minimize electrocution risk;
  • Develop bird-friendly standards for new construction;
  • Improve power line retrofits to minimize collision risks.

The APP was developed for Tampa Electric by nationally recognized certified wildlife biologist Richard Harness of EDM International, Inc., based in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Tampa Electric proactively instituted an avian protection program in April 2004, and the company should take pride that their avian protection efforts have not only made their system more robust, but have contributed to the safety of many bird species in the Tampa Bay area,” said Harness.

Tampa Electric has also donated nesting sites within its service territory and has worked with the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County to install nesting sites at county and city preserves.