The areas where AVANGRID and its companies operate serve as habitats for a wide variety of plant and animal species. Working with partners that include nonprofit environmental protection organizations and regulatory agencies, it is our responsibility to understand and manage our impact on habitats and wildlife.
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.
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.