When a customer loses power it is often easy to think of the basic causes of the outage, but when it comes to large birds of prey like eagles and ospreys, Mon Power and sister stations of FirstEnergy are leading the industry with the use of aerial drones to inspect suspected nests on utility poles that could cause outages.
“Yeah it’s all about trying to keep the lights on for our customers and this is a bit of a different twist. There [are] just so many different things – trees can fall into lines, you can get in car accidents and now you can also have birds come into contact with the line with big nest coming in contact with a line,” said Mon Power spokesperson, Todd Myers.
Myers spoke on the subject of why it is important that Mon Power takes actions through the use of drones to prevent damage to power lines and birds.
“They can catch on fire and it can endanger the bird and it can kill the bird and can kill their chicks. It can also cause a power outage, so what we try to do is try to prevent some of those problems by going and inspecting any nest that we see,” stated Myers.
By being proactive, Mon Power officials use licensed drones to fly over 300 feet above nests to safely observe the use of each nest so each one could be handled appropriately and prevent further issues.
“Through their regular inspections, some utility workers would see a nest and when they see the nest they’ll figure out if it’s not occupied. We will try to get it down and discourage them from being built there again, but if they use a drone and they notice something is going on then they will work with wildlife experts,” Myers said.
The safe removal of each nest is done to not only save the potential danger of the birds and workers, but to keep the power running in each home without error or delay.
“When you have all these great lakes on the Mon River and all of these ospreys along the Mon River – whenever our stuff gets in contact with mother nature we try our best to mitigate those things and we found that these high-tech drones is a very sensible way of doing it,” said Myers.