As an energy company committed to expanding our fleet of renewable energy resources for our customers and partners, and supporting initiatives that focus on sustainable energy models, we value stewardship and conservation innumerous ways across the business.
We actively partner with nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations to deliver energy and new projects and work collaboratively and transparently with regulatory agencies at the local, state and federal levels. That commitment to healthier, sustainable communities begins with strict compliance with environmental laws, regulations and applicable industry standards.
This begins with a commitment to strict compliance with all environmental laws, regulations and applicable industry standards. However, we strive to look beyond our obligations to mitigate and contain the impact of our activities, and actively seek to protect our local and global environments.
Our Networks business is investing in a long-term integrated plan for protected species. Our Renewables business has a long legacy of geophysical surveys and meteorological assessments that guide our decisions for development of new project sites. We invest in extensive programs for the protection of endangered and/or protected species that contribute to how we operate our fleet. In 2018, we invested more than $1.7 million in programs specifically to protect birds, bats and a variety of wildlife.
Preserving ecosystems and biological diversity is essential for sustainable development. By integrating this thinking into our day-to-day environmental management practices, we can help preserve these precious resources for future generations.
The Avangrid Foundation provided $100,000 to the Bats for the Future Fund, a public-private partnership by the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation (NFWF) that in 2018 announced $1.1 million in grants to combat a fungal illness that is devastating bat populations across the
White-nose syndrome has been blamed for the deaths of more than six million bats nationwide in the last decade. It is caused by a fungus
that attacks bats as they hibernate during the winter, with mortality approaching 100 percent at some sites. According to the National Fish
and Wildlife Foundation, without a solution, several bat species are under threat of extinction.
Other organizations partnering with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in the initiative to combat the disease include the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and Southern Company. The Avangrid Foundation continued to build on this collaboration in
2019, committing a total of $1 million to support conservation programs that include Bats for the Future over the next three years.
Read more about how AVANGRID is protecting bats and their homes.
From a squirrel’s perspective, the lines and poles of an electric grid are just an extension of their natural arboreal habitat. Unfortunately, when
squirrels and other small animals come into contact with power lines and similar equipment, the encounter often results in a disruption of
reliable service – and the death of the animal. In November 2018, some 12,000 customers of New York State Electric & Gas lost service after an
unfortunate squirrel scurried into a Buffalo-area substation — just one of many animal contact events on Avangrid Networks’ electric systems last year. In many areas, our companies now install protective equipment at key locations, including “animal arrestors” that dissuade animals from intruding into the system.
The monk parakeet is a social parrot species native to South America that in recent decades has established populations along the coast of
the northeastern United States. They build large, communal nests from sticks and twigs. Among their favored nesting locations are the tops of
utility poles, where the nests can cause fires, disrupt reliable service and obstruct access to transformers and other equipment. Working in
consultation with state environmental protection agencies and nonprofit groups, our companies have employed a variety of strategies —
including construction of alternate nesting platforms — to remove the nests or encourage the birds to build their nests in safer locations.
BIRDS OF PREY
Populations of raptors such as ospreys and bald eagles have been rebounding after decades of decline. These birds seek seasonal nesting sites high above the bodies of water that serve as their hunting grounds. Avangrid Networks companies have developed a work practice to build alternate nesting platforms for ospreys, where appropriate, to discourage them from nesting in electric distribution and transmission structures. Their nests pose a fire hazard that can endanger the birds and any hatchlings, as well as threatening to disrupt electric service. This approach has been a success at several sites in Connecticut, where ospreys have returned to the nesting platforms year after year. Bald eagles, too, are increasingly found in areas where our companies operate. Working with state environmental officials, we have sought to help this magnificent bird of prey to thrive by limiting construction and maintenance activities near their nesting sites.
SNOWBIRDS RETURN EACH YEAR TO NEW PERCH THANKS TO NYSEG
The Osprey is a predatory bird that is listed as a species of special concern by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and every spring it returns to the Finger Lakes region of New York to mate and prey on the fish living in the famous waterbodies.
Since the early 1990s, NYSEG employees have been relocating Osprey nesting systems from utility poles. In some cases, the crews would construct extenders to increase the height of the pole and allow the bird to nest away from the equipment. Additionally, the NYSEG crews erect decoy poles or separate nesting systems further away from the power equipment.
This work has led to great partnerships with community organizations like the Cayuga Bird Club, and is made possible with company and volunteer resources, not only to protect wildlife, but to also safeguard our electricity delivery systems from interference caused by nesting birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has outfitted most free-flying Condors with a VHF radio transmitter, GPS transmitter or both to track their locations. This technology provides the opportunity to detect and respond to a potential collision risk at Manzana, for example, by curtailing turbines and assessing the area for potential attractants.
Avangrid Renewables has proactively contracted with a third party to monitor Condor movements using geofence technology.
If a Condor comes too close to the project’s turbines, the company’s National Control Center can curtail wind turbines until the bird has left the area. Utilizing this type of technology helps manage risks to the species while enabling the operation of the wind farm. Our operations personnel are always on the alert for potential wildlife concerns at the site, coordinating closely with the Wildlife Compliance team.
In addition to the innovative technologies and procedures deployed at Manzana, the company is working to further mitigate the risk, however small, of any possible future impact to the Condor population from our wind operations.
The company has applied for an incidental take permit at Manzana from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and prepared a conservation plan, inclusive of an innovative approach to mitigation and committing over $500,000 to fund an additional full-time employee at the Oregon Zoo.
The Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation, in rural Clackamas County, Oregon, is home to one of the largest Condor breeding facilities in the country. The additional employee would enable the Zoo to enhance its program by increasing the potential for successful Condor breeding and subsequent release into the wild. If the permit is granted, this conservation plan will complement Avangrid Renewables’ comprehensive Wildlife Protection Program and support the long-term recovery of California Condors in the American West.