Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Osprey, geese keep Chelan PUD biologists, crews on their toes


WENATCHEE- Osprey chicks are just beginning to peek above the protection of their high-perched nests. In August new-feathered fledglings will attempt their first flights, many from platforms built by Chelan PUD.

Osprey are migratory raptors that prefer to nest on the tallest snags or structures, as close as possible to the shoreline where they fish. Power poles tend to be attractive for osprey nesting, which is not always a safe option for the birds and increases the risk of fire and power outages.

Osprey are not threatened or endangered, but they’re protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits anyone from moving an active nest. When a nest is started in an unsafe location, Chelan PUD builds standalone platforms up to 65 feet tall that provide osprey with a safer option nearby during the onset of nesting season.

“Every spring, we monitor power poles closely for any new nesting activity. Once we notice nesting material in unsafe locations, we have to act quickly to provide an alternative and entice the birds to a safer location” said Chelan PUD Biologist Kelly Cordell. “We want to protect the osprey and reliability for customers. That’s what this program is about.”

The nesting platform program, part of Chelan PUD’s Avian Protection Plan, began with fewer than 10 in 2006. This spring, the number of platforms totaled about 56 as the population of osprey has grown exponentially.

Canada Geese, which normally nest on the ground, have seized the opportunity and overtaken some osprey nests in recent years. Geese lay their eggs weeks before osprey return from their annual migration from Central and South America, forcing the   raptors to seek lodging elsewhere. To prevent the geese from using the osprey platforms, line crews place covers over the osprey nests during March to keep geese out until the osprey return. When the osprey arrive in early April, the covers are removed.

“The monitoring keeps us all very busy in the spring.” Cordell said. “We’re working with our partners at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to find more solutions for managing goose and osprey conflicts.”

Chelan PUD and Puget Sound Energy finalize clean energy contract

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Chelan County Public Utility District announced a new contract for renewable hydropower from two PUD hydro projects on the Columbia River.

The five-year “slice” contract supplies PSE with 5% of the output from the PUD’s Rock Island and Rocky Reach hydropower projects from 2024 through 2028. The contract complements an existing contract between the two utilities, while generating revenue for the PUD to provide continued rate stability for its customers.

“This contract is part of an overall strategy designed to provide several benefits to customer-owners,” said Chelan PUD General Manager Kirk Hudson. “Ultimately, surplus energy sales keep Chelan County electric rates well below state and national averages, while also protecting customer rates from the risk of volatile markets and variable streamflow.”

The PUD ensures a competitive market price for our customers-owners with the public auction process. Bids are submitted and the PUD selects the highest qualified bidder. The competitive market pricing also allows the PUD to lock in a margin above production costs for the benefit of its customer-owners. PSE secured the contract as the highest bidder in an auction in early 2023.

The contract will bolster PSE’s supply of carbon-free energy, in line with the goal of becoming a “Beyond Net Zero Carbon” energy company by 2045.

“We value our continuing long-standing positive working relationship with PSE and are pleased that this energy will help our state meet its low-carbon policy goals,” Hudson said.


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