Chronicle Journal: Finance

The Illuminating Company Partners with Wildlife Officials to Protect Nesting Birds, Prevent Power Outages in Strongsville

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio, June 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE), recently partnered with wildlife officials to protect an active red-tailed hawk nest containing eggs situated on a transformer near an energized power line in Strongsville. The proactive work will also prevent power disruptions in the area that could be caused by the fire hazard created from a wet nest capable of conducting electricity.

The Illuminating Company Logo (PRNewsfoto/FirstEnergy Corp.)

To keep the birds safe until the hatchlings fledge in the fall, the company worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to install a new pole and transformer adjacent to the existing equipment. Power was redirected to the new equipment and the equipment around the nest was de-energized without impacting service to customers.

"Disturbing or removing nests can be a complicated task due to environmental regulations," said Amy Ruszala, an environmental scientist and avian expert at FirstEnergy. "When a nest with eggs is situated on our equipment and poses a serious threat to the birds' safety and our service reliability, we work with state and federal wildlife officials to devise a plan to keep the birds out of harm's way and the power flowing reliably to our customers."

Birds of prey, like red-tailed hawks, often seek out tall structures, including utility poles and electric transmission towers, to build their nests. These nesting habits often place the birds near energized electrical equipment – jeopardizing their well-being and potentially causing power outages.

When the birds head south for the winter, The Illuminating Company personnel plan to remove the transformer on which the hawk nest is currently situated. They will also install nesting deterrents atop the new electrical equipment to discourage birds from nesting there in the future.

Protecting birds is nothing new to FirstEnergy and its utilities. The company has made great strides enhancing its avian protection efforts, including the implementation of drones to complete bird nest inspections and deployment of a mobile app that allows utility personnel to report avian issues in real time, stream that lining the process to protect nesting birds and enhance electric service reliability. These ongoing efforts continue to help reduce power outages caused by nesting birds.

The Illuminating Company serves 755,000 customers across Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain counties. Connect with The Illuminating Company at www.illuminatingcompany.com, on Twitter @IlluminatingCo and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IlluminatingCo.

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp. 

Editor's Note: Photos of the red-tailed hawk eggs and The Illuminating Company personnel installing the new equipment are available for download on Flickr.

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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.

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