An environmental scientist at Pepco Holdings has been honored for her work enhancing a company plan that has led to protecting bald eagles and, subsequently, offsetting potential power outages.

Cristina Frank, who was honored by the Electric Power Research Institute last month in Tampa, Florida, received the Energy and Environment Sector Technology Transfer Award. The award is given annually to utility employees who have explored and implemented innovative technologies on behalf of their company and the industry.

Cristina Frank (Courtesy of Pepco Holdings)

Bald eagles are a federally protected species with a known vulnerability to power-line collisions that can cause them harm.

“We are committed to the safety of our customers and workers, and more than ever we are using innovative technologies that help maintain safe practices for birds and wildlife,” said Miguel Ortega, Pepco Holdings’ vice president of Technical Services. “I applaud Cristina for this well-deserved award and her ongoing efforts to help us address vulnerabilities to prevent injuries to bald eagles.”

Frank’s research incorporated telemetry data of eagle flight paths with geographic information systems data and existing distribution and transmission lines. The analysis identified 78 new eagle roosts in the company’s service territory and highlighted more than 20 line segments with potential risk of collision. Incorporating eagle telemetry provided new data to reduce eagle collision outages and improve system reliability while minimizing injury and mortality risk to eagles.

Frank’s research was assisted by partners Kathleen Clark, principal zoologist of the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, and Libby Mojica, a wildlife zoologist at EDM International.

While zoologist Clark fitted the nestlings with transmitters and provided the Pepco Holdings team with the flight data and biologist Mojica performed the analysis to identify new roosts and high-risk collision areas, Frank provided the infrastructure data that was required to determine risk and will implement protection strategies to reduce collision risk at the identified high-risk areas.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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