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How autumn affects daily routine of power engineers
2016-09-01

How autumn affects daily routine of power engineers

With the autumn approaching, the daily activities of the specialists who work for the electricity transmission system operator Litgrid are also affected by changing weather patterns and birds leaving their summer habitats. Birds preparing to head south and gathering around power lines in large numbers may cause a short-term power outage.
 
“Our duty is to ensure that electricity is transmitted without disruptions; consequently, we conduct regular assessments and prepare for all the challenges affecting the power grid. Most of them are caused by nature and its natural cycle: there are more disruptions of the power grid resulting from the birds flying past the power lines or perching on electric poles before each autumn. We follow these trends closely to be able to respond promptly to any disruptions”, says Director of the Transmission Grid Department of Litgrid, Mr. Vidmantas Grušas.
 
As of mid-August, birds start congregating in large numbers throughout Lithuania, especially in the southern and western parts where there are more migratory bird areas. They are preparing to leave for the winter and are assembling near aquatic habitats or along the migration routes. Birds, mostly the bigger ones, tend to perch on power line supports which sometimes results in twigs falling on the insulators and contaminating them. This results in the power line disconnects at least for a few seconds. All power grid disruptions are recorded automatically which allows for a quick assessment of the situation and enables to take appropriate measures.
 
After each short-circuit, grid maintenance specialists examine the power lines and assess the status of the installations. To eliminate the consequences of disruptions as efficiently as possible, Litgrid enlists the help of reliable partners and contractors who rapidly arrive at the site of the accident and carry out regular maintenance of the transmission grid.
 
For a number of years, Litgrid has included bird protection measures when planning power line reconstruction works. Special ‘wishbone’ type installations mounted on power line supports prevent birds from landing on the supports, diverting them to safer locations. Another ‘saucer’ type device protects the wire against contamination with bird droppings which often cause short-circuits.
 
Along with the protective devices, nest boxes for another protected species of birds―kestrels―are also being installed on power line supports. 360 nest boxes have been fitted when implementing a joint project with the Lithuanian Ornithological Society. It is estimated that this resulted in 10% population growth of this protected species in Lithuania.
 
 
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