UTILITY POLE NEST FIRE PREVENTION
Wildfires are a horrific and increasing reality in many parts of the country and are of particular concern in Hardshell Labs’ home state of California. The state has experienced nine of the ten largest wildfires in history since 2018 burning over 500 million acres. Electric power utilities are going to great lengths and expenses to mitigate fire ignitions along their many thousands of miles of distribution poles, lines, and stations. Every public utility must now answer state mandates to generate and constantly update Wildfire Mitigation Plans under government and public interest group scrutiny.
The most common causes of wildfires in California are lightning and human activities, but electrical power distribution facilities are coming under greater scrutiny for fallen lines and other equipment-related fire ignitions. A significant sub-category of wildfire ignition causes is “Animal Contact”, with a heavy preponderance of recorded animal contacts being avian — Hardshell’s particular area of interest and expertise.
Working with power-distribution utilities, primarily through its National Science Foundation award, Hardshell is developing an application-specific version of the company’s bird repelling ROAM system to mitigate pole nest fire ignitions.
Hardshell’s approach relies not only on technological deterrents but upon avian behavioral modification to help mitigate any fires from these sources. Saving the labor and expenses of replacing fire-damaged equipment is a significant economic incentive for utility companies, and the prospect of ignition events expanding into wildfires is a top-tier priority concern in transmission line safety.
Wildfires are by definition destructive with the potential for losses of human, animal, and floral lives; causing a myriad of health effects from wildfire and burning infrastructure smoke inhalation; causing significant damage to the environment, including contributions to climate change; as well as damage to and losses of public and private property. Preventing even one wildfire is an eminently worthy goal for Hardshell Labs and reflects the company’s core conservation and environmental values.