February 8, 2024

Cooperating with Nature: Anza EC and Wildlife Mitigation

When managing a utility, one of the many balancing acts to master is how to weigh wildlife mitigation efforts against operational efficiency. When Anza Electric Cooperative of Anza, California was between a rock and a hard place with a delicate wildlife issue, the co-op was able to work quickly to protect nature and provide uninterrupted service to their members, while also deepening ties within their community.

Despite regular proactive wildlife mitigation efforts, a pair of hawks were persistent in creating a nest on top of an Anza EC power pole. When the usual remediation efforts weren’t deterring the hawks from making the pole their home, the co-op knew the situation required a more innovative solution – and fast! “The bird wasn’t making contact with the line, but it was right on it!” Jose Razo, a lineworker on the project, said. “We knew we had to work quickly.”

The solution they settled on was both ingenious and considerate. “We decided to install a new pole within the vicinity of the existing one,” Razo explained. “This way, the hawks could have their nest without posing a threat to the infrastructure or themselves.” This decision wasn’t taken lightly, as it required approval not only from Anza EC’s management but also from Cahuilla Band of Indians as the pole was on tribal lands.

The collaboration with the tribe added an extra layer of significance to the project. The co-op had to ensure that their actions were in line with the cultural and environmental sensibilities of the reservation. “They were very proud that the hawk would be able to stay at their location on the reservation,” Jose said. “Tribal representatives were even on site during the pole installation.”  The project was not just about installing a new pole, it was about preserving the natural habitat of the hawk while ensuring the safety and reliability of the power supply.

This effort by Anza Electric Cooperative reflects the importance of prioritizing community relations alongside operational goals. “It ties back into the cooperative principle of Concern for Community,” Brian Bahrie, Operations Manager, added. “That’s something we always keep in mind.”

Building on the success of this project, Anza Electric Cooperative is focusing on replicating this method of wildlife mitigation. “We have expanded the program and are in the process of purchasing manufactured platforms specifically meant to be receptive to hawk nesting,” Brian shares, underscoring the proactive approach of the co-op.

This initiative also integrates into the co-op’s broader asset management framework. An essential part of managing this expanded program involves keeping track of the new installations. Anza EC already utilizes Futura’s Asset Tracking solution, and these additional poles and platforms are tracked as assets in their system.

The success of this project has been a point of pride for Anza EC. It demonstrates that with quick thinking, collaboration, and a commitment to community values, utilities can find solutions that benefit both wildlife and their consumers