Mitigation Basics

Electrocution Mitigation Basics

How the Eagle ILF Program Works

The Bald Eagle And Golden Eagle Electrocution Prevention In-lieu Fee Program (Eagle ILF Program) sells advance credits to users authorized by the USFWS to participate in the program. Authorized users of the Eagle ILF Program include entities that incidentally take eagles through otherwise lawful activities (i.e. energy generation and distribution facilities, mining operations, timber harvesting, etc.).  The Eagle ILF Program offsets the incidental take by retrofitting high-risk power poles in the same eagle management unit as the permitted take.   

The Eagle ILF Program pools mitigation funds to implement retrofitting projects with partnering electric utilities in areas with 1) concentrations of summering or wintering eagles and 2) poles with a configuration documented as high-risk of electrocuting eagles. Once an area is identified as high-risk for eagle electrocutions, the Eagle ILF Program works with the local electric utility to conduct a risk assessment and prescribe a retrofitting plan.

The USFWS resource equivalency analysis presumes that all power pole retrofits are carried out on “high-risk poles,” but does not provide a specific definition.  The Eagle ILF Program defines high-risk poles using electrocution risk models developed with data from electric utilities and USFWS (Dwyer et al. 2014, Dwyer et al. 2016). The Eagle ILF Program will target retrofits for poles with a relative risk index of 0.40 as calculated by the Dwyer et al. (2014) statistical model of avian electrocution risk. The availability of future take permits depends on compensatory mitigation’s demonstrated effectiveness. The Eagle ILF Program’s transparent, accountable, conservation-oriented approach gives USFWS and credit buyers confidence that their investment will save eagles.

Third-party Inspection of Retrofitted Poles

Inspectors from the Eagle ILF Program will visit each pole to verify installation of retrofitting was completed correctly by the electric utility and identify any remedial actions. In a recent study by EDM, retrofitting errors on poles were not uncommon and resulted from errors in product design, mitigation plans, and field application (Dwyer et al. 2017). These retrofitting errors resulted in eagle electrocutions on poles electric utilities assumed were eagle-friendly. Retrofitting errors are most common in the application of insulation mitigation methods using dielectric covers (bushing covers, conductor covers, etc.).

Mitigation must be effective at offsetting eagle take. Installation errors (indicated with red arrows) allow electrocution risk to persist for eagles on poles even after retrofitting (Dwyer et al. 2017).

Basics of Power Pole Mitigation for Eagles

Eagle electrocutions occur on distribution power poles where clearances between electrified or electrified and grounded parts are shorter than metacarpal-to-metacarpal or head-to-foot distances. When perching or landing on a power pole, eagles can be electrocuted by simultaneously contacting two different phase conductors (phase-to-phase), or a conductor and a path to ground (phase-to-ground).
Illustration of eagle size and recommended clearances to minimize electrocution hazards.
  1. 60 inches horizonal to accommodate the wrist-to-wrist dimension of an eagle
  2. 40 inches vertical to accommodate a perching eagle

Retrofitting poles to make them eagle-friendly requires using established mitigation techniques which ensure adequate 40” vertical and 60” horizontal clearances on poles.  Common mitigation techniques are separation, insulation, and redirection.

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