Birds such as raptors commonly use utility poles for perching, roosting, and hunting. Electrical contact typically occur on voltages less than 69 kV (69,000 volts) where separation between the wires is minimal. Electrical contact results in the death of the bird and often cause a power outage.
Substations located in favourable habitats can attract birds, such as ravens, for perching and roosting. Electrocutions typically occur in the low, 25 kV side of the substation where there are minimal clearances. In these situations, electrical contact results in the death of the bird and often cause a power outage.
AltaLink has completed a risk assessment of its system to determine if electrical contact on poles is an issue. Because AltaLink does not operate low voltage poles, the risk for electrocution is extremely low. For substations, AltaLink utilizes custom-fitted covers to prevent contact between birds and energized electrical equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes birds to get electrocuted?
Birds commonly use transmission towers and substations for perching, roosting, and hunting. Birds can be at risk on smaller distribution poles and in substations where the electric phases are closer together, rather than on larger transmission structures where they are further apart. A bird is at risk of electrocution if it contacts two energized components or an energized component and a grounded component.
What does AltaLink do to prevent bird fatalities?
Since AltaLink does not operate distribution power lines, pole electrocutions are rare. However, electrocutions can occur on lower voltage lines and in substations. To prevent this from happening, AltaLink uses a variety of methods including covers and anti-perch devices.
AltaLink incorporates protective covers in all new substations, which provide a barrier between birds and energized electrical equipment. AltaLink is also retrofitting substations with protective covers to protect birds and ensure a reliable electricity system. AltaLink was the first company to use this product and was instrumental in the development and testing of the product.
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