Minimizing Impacts from Operation and Maintenance

PG&E workers upgrade a 500 kV transmission line. As a result of successful procedures developed in coordination with wildlife protection agencies, no nesting birds or eggs were impacted because of the work performed on the towers.

PG&E’s high voltage electric infrastructure can traverse rural and remote areas that support unique and sensitive habitats throughout California, ranging from oak woodlands to seasonal wetlands. This requires us to take steps to avoid or minimize impacts to these resources when we perform operation and maintenance activities.

As an example, last year we performed a major safety upgrade to more than 700 500 kV transmission towers on an accelerated schedule to ensure safe and reliable electricity for our customers. This project required crews to access towers throughout a broad stretch of the Central Valley, often in remote and ecologically sensitive areas home to species such as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Tipton kangaroo rat and San Joaquin kit fox, as well as a variety of migratory birds.

To minimize impacts to wildlife and habitat, we maintained close coordination among our team of PG&E biologists, general construction and transmission maintenance construction teams, construction engineers and the company’s Avian Protection Program manager, as well as with federal and state agency officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Independent System Operator.

Working collaboratively, we took numerous steps to avoid or minimize disturbance to bird nests located on the towers. This included scheduling repairs outside of breeding and nesting seasons, maintaining flexible work hours to minimize impacts to eggs or chicks within nests and using a quieter helicopter to transport crews and equipment to and from the towers.

Other steps we took to minimize environmental impacts while working expeditiously included:

  1. Conducting surveys prior to beginning our work to assess whether there were any raptors or other sensitive species in the project area,
  2. Briefing crews on a daily basis on work procedures related to protecting wildlife and habitat,
  3. Closely monitoring construction vehicles and equipment to avoid any disturbances, and
  4. Complying with all requirements of the project’s raptor monitoring and protection plan, such as screening the area before and after work days to verify that adult birds returned to nests.


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