Utilities have long taken measures to make electric infrastructure more visible and less obstructive to plants and animals. A Great River Energy project in southwest Minnesota demonstrates a new approach to keeping birds safe.
Due to avian strike concerns on the CapX2020 transmission line segment between the Lyon and Hazel substations near Cottonwood, Minnesota, Great River Energy partnered with Fulcrum Air to install 650 bird flight diverters using new technology.
The process uses a line-fly robot to place highly visible components — called “bird flight diverters” — on the overhead wires. The line-fly robot is placed on an overhead wire by a drone. The robot is then able to drive on the wire, placing the bird flight diverters as it goes. The robot was able to place 300-400 diverters per day and completed the job in two days.
Traditional methods to install bird flight diverters include using a bicycle trolley, helicopter or bucket truck. The line-fly robot has several advantages compared to those methods:
- A 20%-30% cost reduction
- Allows technicians to keep a safe distance
- Can be used on overhead wires while conductors below are energized
- Environmentally friendly
- Minimal disruption to power line right of way
“There are significant benefits to this approach, so we’ll look to [use this method] more in the future,” said Kellen Gullickson, supervising manager of transmission construction and maintenance at Great River Energy.