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In 2019, we implemented a new standard to protect raptors and other birds from collisions with structures, wires, and other system components. For newly installed electric transmission lines — including existing lines that are rebuilt — swan diverters and raptor clamps will be installed at all wetland crossings. Electric transmission lines are difficult to identify for birds in flight at these locations, so this new standard is intended to increase visibility and reduce deadly collisions with conductor and shield wire.
In 2019, Dominion Energy developed an Avian Field Guide for anyone working in the field across the Power Delivery organization. This tool allows anyone with access to a tablet or mobile device to identify common birds in our service areas, access important diagrams and videos for retrofits and deterrent installation, and report incidents immediately. Accompanying this field guide is a mobile report form that can be completed from the tablet or mobile device and submitted directly to the Electric Transmission Reliability and Biology teams. The goal of these tools is to streamline and expedite the reporting process and improve information accuracy in incident reporting.
In early 2019, Dominion Energy responded to a request from the Avian Conservation Center, Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina to rescue a bald eaglet that fell 80 feet from its nest. Wildlife experts said the eaglet should be returned to the nest, but neither the local fire department nor the local electric cooperative owned equipment that could reach that high. A team from Dominion Energy South Carolina mobilized their equipment and returned the bird safely to its nest and parents.
We work to avoid disturbing wildlife and natural habitat where we can, and we try to mitigate our effects upon them where we cannot. We install netting to protect bats from flying into fans in air-cooled condensers at power stations. Currently, there are no effective bat deterrent systems or technologies available that can be used on air-cooled condensers due to their sheer size. Dominion Energy designed a Wildlife Exclusion System — the first of its kind in the world — to minimize bat mortality without affecting performance. Based on two years of monitoring, bat mortality at the Warren County Power Station was reduced by 98 percent. Building on this success, we installed the Wildlife Exclusion System at the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center and the Brunswick County Power Station in 2019.
Dominion Energy constructed fish-passage structures at our Roanoke Rapids hydroelectric power station that allow American Eels to access their historic habitat. In 2009, Dominion Energy began operating eel ladders, or “eelways,” to capture, count, and transport American Eels upstream of the Roanoke Rapids Dam. These eels are transported above the dam to repopulate historic eel habitat and restore their ecological function. To date, more than 2 million eels have passed upstream of the Roanoke Rapids Power Station, and more than 37,700 passed upstream in 2019. Dominion Energy has transported more than 1,615 eels above the Gaston hydroelectric station since 2018. New and improved passage facilities at Gaston Power Station have been designed with input from federal and state wildlife agencies and are scheduled to be constructed and operational in 2020. Simultaneously, Dominion Energy is researching options to provide safe, timely, and effective downstream passage for outmigrating adult American Eels from Roanoke Rapids Lake.
In addition to these infrastructure projects, we conduct monitoring studies at facilities where we use water to make power. These studies provide information that is used to help prevent harm to water quality and fisheries resources, and to help optimize fishery-management strategies.