FL - FPL May Have Fix for Power Short-Outs Caused by Bird Droppings

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FPL May Have Fix for Power Short-Outs Caused by Bird Droppings The Associated Press Published: Jun 10, 2001

MIAMI, Fla. (AP) - About a quarter of power outages - short flicker outs that are quickly fixed by computers but still force you to reset your microwave clock - are caused not by electricity shortages, but by bird droppings. Engineers at Florida Power & Light think they have a solution.

Birds of prey that land atop electric towers are the chief perpetrators of power failure for the utility's seven million customers.

There's no polite way to say it - their droppings are very large, sometimes six feet long.

If one end of the bird dropping hits an electric wire and the other the grounded tower, the line can short and lights and computers across South Florida turn off for a moment.

But engineers and biologists have developed prototype devices that seem to keep the birds out of striking distance of the company's 6,000 miles of transmission lines.

Working with the Miami Museum of Science, scientists put cones across test tower arms. In experiments, the big birds of prey don't try to land on the cones. Birds don't like to land on pitched or unstable surfaces, and the steep walls of the cones are a deterrent.

The birds, mainly hawks, eagles and ospreys, like the electric towers because they are high perches from which they can scan for prey.

The FPL devices don't harm the birds, but discourage the birds from landing in spots within dropping distance of a tower.

FPL has also experimented with the angle of their span arms; tests showed birds avoid arms angled up more than 35 degrees.

Alternative perching also works.

The birds can be lured to big perches far above the wires by the prospect of greater visibility. The perches are high enough that the droppings break up before they hit the wire.


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), June 11, 2001

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