BirdBloc – Bird and Animal Mitigation at Stillwater Electric

Background – Substation Bird Deterrent Needed

Stillwater Electric, located in Stillwater, OK, is the second largest municipal utility in the state. Community-owned since 1901 and a member of the American Public Power Institute, Stillwater Electric includes approximately 489 miles of overhead lines, 271 miles of underground lines, 10,000 distribution transformers, 12,354 utility poles, 3,940 streetlights, and related electrical equipment. The utility maintains 26 miles of high voltage transmission system lines and constructs extensions to this system. 

They operate 21 miles of 69,000-volt local transmission lines (which essentially circle the city), eight electric substations, and oversee the operation of the Stillwater Energy Center, which is a state-of-the-art, quick-start natural gas fired reciprocating engine power plant with an output of 56 million watts. They operate and maintain four two-million watt diesel generators for a generation total of 64 million watts of generation capacity. 

The Boomer Lake Substation is at Boomer Lake, a 250 acre lake primarily used to serve as cooling water source for the generation station - co-located with the Boomer Lake Substation. There are huge populations of fish, birds, waterfowl, and many other types of animals around the park.

Bird Deterrent Goals

The motivation for the project was to eliminate the “food supply” for predator mammals, such as raccoons or opossums. Stillwater Electric had a raccoon-related "near-miss" in 2020 where the raccoon was after bird eggs in the substation. The substation has chain-link fencing all around, and the footings have been recently reinforced to prevent animals digging underneath. Critter Guard’s Line Guard product is prominently installed on most "feeder" lines in/out of the substation. Critter Guard’s products prevent animal ingress via overhead lines or power poles. However, birds have been a consistent problem. Stillwater Electric has also had several maintenance calls due to bird scat around the large breakers on the phase connectors. The critical electrical equipment is mounted around and on a series of vertical and horizontal I-Beams that provide the mounting "structure" for the critical equipment. The pad mounted breakers and sensitive control equipment are connected below in special enclosures. When birds roost overhead (landing on these I-Beams) the scat can drop onto and around the boxes, creating a potential shortage risk.

In addition, there was indication of a previous bird nest in the structure behind one of the phase connectors. This was likely the "bait" the raccoon was after when they had the "near-miss."

As such, the goal of this install was to prohibit/prevent similar types of events in the future by installing Critter Guard’s BirdBloc solution.

satellite image of Boomer Lake Power Substation

Solution - BirdBloc Installation

Since the substation was "hot" and not able to be de-energized at the time of installation, a complete installation was not possible on the first day. A full installation was completed a short time later during normal planned downtime. Based on a walk-around inspection, and review of relevant safe-distancing from live phases, we chose to install the BirdBloc pouches around the perimeter of the substation "secondary" structure. This is a densely populated rectangular set of I-beams about 40' x 20'. The installation involved hanging the BirdBloc granule pouches around each of the support structures located just below live phase connectors. This was an outdoor application with no cover for the BirdBloc pouches.

After eight weeks, with repeated normal maintenance personnel being at the station many times during this period, no sighting of birds roosting or perching was observed. Though there was a slight discoloration of the pouches (indicating the material was starting to fade), the strength of the smell of individual pouches was still noticeable. One of the Stillwater linemen, Troy Daves, commented that in his 30+ years’ experience, he’d seen a lot of ideas to mitigate birds. None were too impressive, and he, admittedly, was skeptical of this approach. However, after eight weeks with no birds, he says he is now a believer.

The City has plans now to follow up this initial installation with the BirdBloc cubes, the longer lasting version of the active ingredient. The granules in the pouches are recommended for initial application because the concentrated smell, over a few weeks, trains the birds not to come back. Afterward, the BirdBloc cubes can be installed, which provide a less concentrated smell but over a much longer period of time, such as three to four months. This treatment will effectively prohibit birds from roosting, nesting, or perching around the substation through the active nesting season.

line guards shown on power lines at substation
birdbloc pouches at substation

Learn More About BirdBloc

To learn more about Critter Guard’s BirdBloc product or receive a quote for BirdBloc, visit our BirdBloc page.

Get a Quote for BirdBloc

Check Out Critter Guard's Product Lines

Critter Guard's core products include the Line Guard, Pole Guard, and BirdBloc. Our products prevent many types of animals ranging from squirrels and rats to sloths and monkeys from accessing critical electrical equipment and homes via overhead power lines and utility poles.

Content Written by John Sims