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Development and Deployment of a Bird Strike Indicator (BSI)
and
Bird Activity Monitor (BAM)To Remotely Monitor Avian Utility Interactions


  EDM International, Inc.
4001 Automation Way
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525-3479
Phone: 970-204-4001
Fax: 970-204-4007
E-mail: rharness@edmlink.com

1. PROJECT DESCRIPTION

1.1 Introduction

Avian wildlife interactions (i.e. collisions and electrocutions) with overhead power lines, communication towers and wind turbines are of increasing concern to utilities, regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. The topic is currently the subject of significant debate because there are many unanswered questions needing to be resolved before educated decisions are made. A technology is needed to provide the basis for meaningful study of the problem. There is a need for tools to collect information to better define the problem and to determine the effectiveness of potential solutions.

In response to this technology gap, EDM International, Inc. (EDM) proposes to develop and deploy avian wildlife power line interaction monitors that can be cost-effectively used in remote locations to capture vital information necessary to minimize and/or eliminate the subjectivity and conjecture surrounding this issue. The avian monitors will be capable of recording avian wildlife interactions under a variety of environmental conditions.

EDM proposes to develop/complete two different data collection tools: the Bird Strike Indicator (BSI) and Bird Activity Monitor (BAM). The Bird Strike Indicator is an impulse-based vibration sensing and recording tool to study bird strikes on aerial cables. The Bird Activity Monitor is an intelligent image-based sensing and recording tool to assist with detailed study of wildlife interaction with various types of infrastructure. The basic concept is illustrated in Figure 1.1.
  Click for full size Figure.

On-site testing of the BSI and BAM will take place on the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. A transmission power line parallel to U.S. Highway 83 between Lake Audubon and Lake Sakakawea has a history of bird collision problems. During one 3-month period in 1976 a total of 244 birds were found. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) manages the Refuge and has agreed to participate in the study.

After successful testing of the avian monitors, wires in critical spans at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge will be marked to mitigate collisions. Although numerous devices are available to make wires more visible, little is known about their effectiveness. The BSI and BAM will be used to test effectiveness of marking devices.

1.2 Project Team

To accomplish the objectives of the project, a uniquely qualified Team made up of experts with complementary backgrounds related to sensor technology, software for overhead lines, wildlife management, research and development and project management is proposed. The Project Team consists of the following organizations:

Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC) - Washington D.C.
EDM International, Inc. (EDM) - Fort Collins, Colorado
EPRI - Palo Alto, California
Montana Power Company (MPC) - Billings, Montana
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) - San Francisco, California
Southwest Research Institute, Inc. (SwRI) - San Antonio, Texas
Tri-State G&T Association - Denver, Colorado
United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) - Washington D.C.
Western Area Power Administration (Western) - Lakewood, Colorado

EDM will be the Project Team leader with active participation from all members of the Project Team. EDM has significant experience in the management and fiscal control of large research and development projects, and a high level of expertise in projects related to the design, operation, monitoring and maintenance of overhead lines. EDM also has extensive experience with addressing wildlife/utility interactions.

EPRI is the largest not-for-profit organization managing and conducting research and development for the electric utility industry. EPRI will act as the lead project sponsor.

SwRI is one of the original and largest independent not-for-profit applied research and development organizations in the United States. SwRI will assist with vision-based sensor research and development, and with sensor packaging, power supply, and data storage and data communication.

APLIC is an organization of scientists and engineers with the goal to collect and disseminate state-of-the-art information about bird collisions and electrocutions to the electric utility industry. APLIC regularly supports research on avian interactions and will participate in the project and provide biological assistance.

PG&Eís Research and Development Department produced a prototype bird/power line collision detection system during the 1990ís. Part of the project will leverage this technology. PG&E has agreed to provide technical details on their prototype development and to be part of the projectís Technical Advisory Group.

The mission of the USFWS is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The USFWS will assist with conducting bird searches and will provide lodging and a vehicle for on-site researchers at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. The USFWS will also perform necropsies on birds to determine the cause of death.

Electric utilities with experience addressing collision issues will be included in the Project Team. These utilities include Western, MPC and Tri-State G&T. These utilities will also be project co-funders. Western will also provide crews to install devices on power lines for testing.

2. BIRD STRIKE INDICATOR

The Bird Strike Indicator (Photo 1) is a tool to remotely record ďstrikesĒ on a wire. Pacific Gas & Electricís Research and Development Department under the direction of Dr. Sheila Byrne produced a prototype bird/power line collision detection system during the 1990ís. The experimental bird/power line collision detection system consists of a horizontal plane accelerometer. The accelerometer monitors conductor vibration and transmits a digitized signature of any impacts, along with the date, time of day, and conductor temperature to a ground station, where it is stored for later retrieval.

Although limited testing has been done on PG&Eís prototype, the basic principals of operation have proven to be sound and workable. Several working prototypes have been fabricated and primary testing problems had to do with water intrusion and communication reliability.

Progress on the Bird Strike Indicator has been slow in recent years due to a lack of personnel resources. PG&E is currently finishing a report to the California Energy Commission on the work completed. Although PG&E has no plans to continue development of the BSI, Dr. Byrne is willing to support further development as a project advisor.

EDM proposes to complete development of the BSI incorporating up-to-date communication components and employing recent technological advances in accelerometers and data acquisition systems. The Project Team proposes to develop a pre-commercial prototype within 12 months through a multi-tasked R&D effort.

2.1 BSI Project Approach

A list of several key project tasks envisioned to accomplish the objectives of the BSI Project is provided below.

Task 1 Project Initiation and Administration
A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) made up of project participants and potential users of this projectís research results will be established as a resource from which to obtain regular input on the projectís objectives and technologyís features and capabilities. The role of the TAG will be to review, comment and suggest improvements to the projectís technical performance objectives, the systemís technical specifications and designs, project test plans and test results. A project kick off meeting involving the TAG will be conducted shortly after the project is initiated.

Task 2 Investigate Previous Research
EDM will access and review all information developed by previous efforts to develop a Bird Strike Indicator. EDM will contact PG&E to obtain prototype BSIís and all technical documentation. The Bonneville Power Administrationís (BPA) Division of Laboratories also developed an experimental bird/power line collision detection system during the 1980ís. BPA will also be consulted for all relevant information. This information will be used to refine Task 3.

Task 3 Updating the Prototype Design, Fabrication, Testing, and Refinement
A Pre-Prototype will be developed from information collected in the previous phase. The system will minimally consist of state-of-the-art accelerometers, clamps, power supplies, signal processors and data acquisition systems. These newer components will be assembled and configured to provide the basic sensing capabilities of PG&Eís existing prototype BSI. The BSI Pre-Prototype system will provide:

  1. A sensor system for real-time monitoring of avian collisions (including the appropriate firmware)
  2. A power supply for the sensor and communication systems
  3. A communication system for transmitting data to a monitoring site
The sensor system design will include activities to identify the appropriate signal processing capabilities and data logging capabilities. Operating parameters will also be developed for a representative range of line configurations (e.g. distribution and transmission size conductors). Sensitivity will also be evaluated to maximize the range of detectable bird sizes and to minimize false strike triggers.

Power supply options to be considered include conventional battery powered service, inductive for live wires, and photovoltaic solar cells. The Pre-Prototype sensor will incorporate a power supply allowing placement on overhead static wires most often associated with bird collisions. The fabrication effort will also include the integration of the appropriate enclosure/deployment hardware. Communication options to be investigated for transmitting data from the sensor system to the monitoring site include radio link, telephone lines, and cellular communication.

A prototype sensor system will be fabricated and tested to determine whether the system is able to reliably monitor avian collisions. The completed system will be thoroughly tested in a laboratory setting. Based on the results of the acceptance testing, the sensor system design and prototype system will be refined as needed to address any critical problems observed with regard to system accuracy, integrity or reliability. The results of this task will be reviewed with the TAG and the advanced prototype will be used in the field-testing in Task 4.

Task 4 Develop a Pre-Commercial Design and Field Test
A commercial design will be developed including embedded systems, miniaturization, optimization of power budget and hardening of packaging. A set of supporting drawings will also be created for the pre-commercial prototype. The key objectives of this task will be to utilize the BSI to capture information on avian collisions in a real world setting. A secondary objective will be to test the prototype BSI in order to enable further refinement of the system design.

The field-testing will provide an opportunity to evaluate the BSI functionality and survivability under actual operating conditions and to identify design or operating refinements needed to prepare the system for commercial production. Enhancements to the system design identified during field testing will be implemented to the extent allowed by project schedule, task budget and resources.

The proposed test site will be visited to identify site-specific requirements. Twenty functional prototype BSIs will be fabricated and calibrated in the laboratory for consistency between units. The units will then be deployed on 2 selected problem spans at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. The Project Team will install the BSIs with the assistance of the host utilityís line crew. EDM will monitor the performance of prototype units for the two-year study period. Data captured by the BSIs will be analyzed and archived on a regular basis.

Task 5 Analyze Data Captured by the BSI and Develop Recommendations for Mitigating Bird Collisions for the Monitored Spans
The Project Team will analyze data collected by the indicators in an attempt to determine if birds are colliding with overhead static wires or primary conductors. The Project Team will also document the number of birds involved, weather, and time of day of recorded collisions. A weather station will be needed to collect this covariate information on bird strikes. The appropriate marker type will also depend on identifying bird species in dead bird searches (see Task 6). These data will be used as the basis for developing recommendations for appropriate mitigating measures (e.g. aerial marker spheres, swinging plates, artificial lighting, spiral vibration dampers, and bird flight diverters).

Task 6 Bird Collision Searches
Concurrent with Tasks 1 through 5 is the establishment of dead bird searches at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. The dead bird searches will develop in 2 stages, each providing critical data for designing and conducting subsequent stages.

The first stage will consist of developing and implementing dead bird surveys for one year to document numbers and spatial distribution of avian mortalities along the Audubon Causeway. This will allow the prototype BSIs to be placed on spans with the worst collision problems. After the BSIís are installed, dead bird searches will continue for up to two additional years for an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the BSI to detect bird strikes.

2.2 BSI Schedule

The proposed schedule is a time-phased representation of the project. A total of twelve months will be required to fully develop the prototype BSI units and deploy them at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Testing the effectiveness of BSIs will continue up to two years; less if sufficient field data are collected sooner. The schedule assumes a January 1, 2001 project start date.

 

2.3 BSI Budget

In the budgeting process the Project Team uses the task descriptions from the Work Plan with the Schedule to estimate the labor and expense requirements. The budget for the proposed project is $529,000. The approximate breakdown of costs by task is provided below. The costs for Project Initiation and Project Administration are shared among the other tasks.

Investigate Previous Research $ 16,000
Updating the Prototype Design, Fabrication, Testing, and Refinement $ 79,000
Develop a Commercial Design and Field Test $ 49,000
Bird Collision Searches and Data Analysis for 3 Years $205,000
Produce 20 Systems $112,000
Field Test BSI $ 52,000
Final Report and System Documentation $ 16,000
Total $529,000

The budget has been prepared based on the following assumptions:

3. BIRD ACTIVITY MONITOR

The project will seek to develop a Bird Activity Monitor (BAM) that can be cost-effectively deployed in remote locations to capture vital information necessary to minimize and/or eliminate the subjectivity and conjecture surrounding the bird collision and electrocution issue. The envisioned monitors will capture, store and/or transmit images of the interaction of birds with power lines, communication lines and towers when their flight paths are in proximity to the facilities which have monitors installed. These images can then be used as the basis for objective investigation of the issue. The images can be used alone or in concert with ancillary measurements made by devices such as the bird strike indicator. BAMs can also efficiently monitor retrofitted lines to determine if mitigating measures are working.

It is proposed that the BAMs be developed by building upon the capabilities of a related technology being developed for the real-time monitoring of power line conductor ground clearance. By leveraging the proposed development upon the ground clearance monitoring technology, the R&D aspects of the project can be conducted at a relatively low cost, the R&D can progress on a fast track, and the likelihood of successfully developing a practical, cost-effective monitoring system is increased.

The conductor ground clearance monitor utilizes video technology coupled with sophisticated image processing software to accurately monitor and track the motion of conductors for thermal rating purposes. Eleven prototype systems have been installed to date at utilities throughout the U.S. They have already proven to be both accurate and reliable. The system can be solar or AC powered. Data can be transmitted via spread spectrum radios (RF), cellular, or satellite communication or data can be stored at the monitor for periodic downloading. The system is self-contained, can be installed on live lines, and can easily be relocated to monitor different lines as needs change or studies are completed.

3.1 BAM Project Approach

EDM proposes to develop the monitor by building upon the capabilities of a related technology being developed by EDM for the real-time monitoring of power line conductor ground clearance. The conductor ground clearance monitor being developed by EDM under the sponsorship of EPRI, the California Energy Commission and a consortium of utilities utilizes video technology coupled with sophisticated image processing software to accurately monitor and track the motion of conductors for thermal rating purposes. By leveraging the development upon the ground clearance monitoring technology, the proposed approach offers three significant benefits:

  1. The R&D aspects of the project can be conducted at a relatively low cost.
  2. The R&D can progress on a fast track.
  3. The likelihood of successfully developing a practical, cost-effective monitoring system is dramatically increased.
A list of the key project tasks envisioned to accomplish the objectives is provided below.

Task 1 Project Initiation and Administration
A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) made up of project participants and potential users of this projectís research results will be established as a resource from which to obtain regular input on the projectís objectives and technologyís features and capabilities. The role of the TAG will be to review, comment and suggest improvements to the projectís technical performance objectives, the systemís technical specifications and designs, project test plans and test results. A project kick off meeting involving the TAG will be conducted shortly after the project is initiated.

Task 2 Develop Functional Specifications for System
EDM will develop functional specifications for the system (e.g. sensor, signal processing, communication and deployment hardware) and firmware (e.g. data analysis, data management, system diagnostic, and communication firmware) to guide hardware and firmware-component design in subsequent tasks. Draft functional specifications will be distributed to the TAG for review and comment. The specifications will be refined as necessary based on the input received from the TAG.

Task 3 Develop Sensor Package Hardware and Firmware Design
EDM will develop the sensor package hardware and firmware design based on the functional specifications for the system. Designs will be developed for:

The sensor system design will include activities to identify the appropriate optics, night vision or infrared illumination capabilities, motion detection features, signal processing capabilities, data logging capabilities, and optional ancillary measurements capabilities (e.g. measurements of ambient weather condition, and integration of measurements made by the bird strike monitor). To accurately detect and record a bird strike, a trigger mechanism must be developed along with a pre-trigger recording mechanism. The project approach will be to use motion-sensing software to analyze continuous images. A computer will automatically analyze digital images and store only the data actually showing birds striking or coming in close proximity to the wires.

Power supply options to be considered include conventional alternating-current electrical service and photovoltaic solar cells. Communication options to be investigated for transmitting data from the sensor system to the monitoring site include radio link, telephone lines, and cellular communication.

Task 4 Fabricate, Acceptance Test and Refine Prototype Sensor System
At the completion of the R&D phase a prototype BAM will be fabricated for evaluation and testing in a mock field setting. The Project Team will fabricate, acceptance test and refine a prototype sensor system. The fabrication effort will include the integration of the sensor package, power supply, communication system and enclosure/deployment hardware. This task will also include the development of the system firmware. The completed system will be thoroughly tested in a laboratory setting. Based on the results of the acceptance testing, the sensor system design and prototype system will be refined as needed to address any critical problems observed with regard to system accuracy, integrity or reliability. The advanced prototype will be used in the field-testing. The results of this task will be reviewed with the TAG.

Task 5 Field Test and Refine System
The key objectives of this phase will be to utilize the BAM to capture information on avian wildlife activity in a real world setting. The envisioned monitors will capture, store and/or transmit images of the interaction of birds with power lines when their flight paths are in close proximity to lines that have monitors installed. A secondary objective will be to test the prototype BAMs in order to enable further refinement of the system design.

The proposed test site will be visited to identify site-specific requirements. Five systems will be fabricated and deployed (with Western line crew assistance) on selected spans at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Western will also supply AC power for the units. In addition to developing and deploying the systems, EDM proposes to support the use of the monitors following the installations. Data captured by the BAMs will also be analyzed and archived on a regular basis by EDM.

The field-testing will provide an opportunity to evaluate the BAM performance under actual operating conditions and to identify design or operating refinements needed to prepare the system for commercial production. Enhancements to the system design identified during the field test will be implemented to the extent allowed by the project schedule, task budget and resources. A commercial design will be developed including embedded systems, miniaturization, and optimization of power budget and hardening of packaging. A set of supporting drawings will also be created for the commercial prototype.

Task 6 Field Monitoring
Concurrent with these tasks is the establishment of dead bird searches at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. The dead bird searches will develop in 2 stages, each providing critical data for designing and conducting subsequent stages.

The first stage will consist of developing and implementing dead bird surveys to document numbers and spatial distribution of avian mortalities along the Audubon Causeway. Problematic spans will be identified in the first two years of the BSI Project. These data will allow the prototype BAMs to be placed on spans with the highest collision rates.

After the BAMs are installed, continued dead bird searches are critically important for at least two years for an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the BAM to detect bird strikes. The first year of the BAM field trial is proposed to overlap with the final year of the BSI field trial. During this period BAM images will be compared to the BSI data to determine the effectiveness of the BAM. The BAM Project will then need at least one additional year of dead bird searches to for an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the BAM.

The Project Team will analyze data collected by the monitors to determine if birds are colliding with overhead static wires or primary conductors. The Project Team will also document the number and species of birds involved, weather, and time of day of observed collisions. The weather station installed in the BSI Project will collect this covariate information on bird strikes. These data will be used as the basis for developing recommendations for appropriate mitigating measures (e.g. aerial marker spheres, swinging plates, artificial lighting, spiral vibration dampers, and bird flight diverters).

3.2 BAM Schedule

The proposed schedule is a time-phased representation of the project. A total of twenty-four months will be required to fully develop the BAM and deploy them at the Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. Testing the effectiveness of the BAM will require up to 2 years or less if sufficient data are collected sooner.

 

3.3 BAM Budget

In the budgeting process the Project Team uses the task descriptions from the Work Plan with the Schedule to estimate the labor and expense requirements. The budget for the proposed project is $482,000. The approximate breakdown of costs by task is provided below. The costs for Project Initiation and Project Administration are shared among the other tasks.

Develop Functional Specifications $ 16,000
Develop Sensor Package Hardware and Firmware Design $ 46,000
Fabricate, Acceptance Test and Refine Prototype Sensor System $102,000
Produce 5 Systems $127,000
Field Test and Refine System $ 62,000
Field Monitoring - Image Processing (2 years) $ 54,000
Field Monitoring - Bird Searches (1 year) $ 66,000
Final Report and System Documentation $ 9,000
Total $482,000

The budget has been prepared based on the following assumptions:

4. BIRD COLLISION MITIGATING DEVICES

The first three years of the BSI Project include dead bird surveys to document annual numbers and spatial distribution of avian mortalities along the Audubon Causeway and to assess the effectiveness of the BSI on 2 spans to detect bird strikes. A fourth year of dead bird surveys is required to complete BAM testing on 5 spans. BSI and BAM strike data should provide useful insights as to whether birds are hitting static wires, conductors, or both. These data along with information on bird species and time of day, plus weather covariate data will provide the basis of recommendations for appropriate mitigating measures (e.g. aerial marker spheres, swinging plates, artificial lighting, spiral vibration dampers, and bird flight diverters).

We propose to simultaneously use the 4 years of dead bird searches to begin studying effectiveness of selected marking techniques for reducing avian collision mortality at Audubon Causeway using mortality estimates from dead bird searches as the primary response variable in the mitigation study. Dead bird searches are proposed because the proposed level of BSI-BAM deployment is likely insufficient to evaluate efficacy of line marking techniques, and greater levels of deployment are not justified until BSI and BAM are proven reliable. Also, if we defer the collision mitigation study until the BSI and BAM are proven reliable, results of the study may be unacceptably delayed.

Line marker effectiveness will be estimated by the change in collision frequency between treatment and control spans, accounting for pretreatment differences (pre- and post-treatment contrast), and associated estimates of sampling variability (standard error and confidence intervals) using a crossover design. Crossover involves reversing the pattern of control and treatment for experimental units (transmission-line spans). The first 3 years of dead bird searches will provide pretreatment mortality data along Audubon Causeway and these data will be used to develop the experimental design for testing marking efficacy. After sufficient pretreatment data is collected Western will mark wires in treatment-group spans while another group of spans will remain unmarked to serve as experimental controls.

Because year-by-span mortality data are likely to be highly variable, it is not possible to specify a final design (duration) for the mitigation study until adequate pretreatment data are obtained. If we observe very large numbers of mortalities all along the causeway, then it may be feasible to complete the marking study with 2 additional years of dead bird searches. More realistically, 4 or more years of work may be required past the pretreatment period since it is far better to invest in quality research with adequate sample sizes than to conduct small-scale projects where the end result is little better than unsubstantiated speculation due to insufficient sample sizes.

The scenario proposed above will allow the marking study to coattail on the BSI and BAM studies with little additional cost. The marking study will very likely extend beyond the 4 years proposed to test BSI and BAM, thus requiring separate budgeting for the final years of the marking study. The final budget for this task will be developed after the first 3 years of pretreatment data are acquired.

5. INVOICING BASIS

EDMís proposed Project Budget is based on monthly progress payments. Invoices will be submitted each calendar month, for the work accomplished during that period, and will be due and payable when issued. All accounts not paid within thirty (30) days from the invoice date will bear a service charge of one and one-half percent (1.5%) per month for each month the invoice is unpaid.

6. PROGRESS REPORTING

Monthly progress reports will be prepared each quarter after the contract approval date and shall continue each following quarter until the final report is prepared. A final report will be prepared which documents the results of each project activity and also includes design documents for the system, and installation and operational specifications for the BSI and BAM. The final report will also document the results of the analysis of the data collected by the BSI and BAM during the field trials as well as recommendations for appropriate measures for mitigating bird collisions on the monitored spans.

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