Where Every Osprey Counts
By Jessica Kurbatov, Lakeland Electric Intern
Lakeland Electric is committed to providing reliable service and sustaining a healthy ecosystem. Because of this commitment we have made continuous efforts for many years to protect the avian community.
Within Lakeland Electric’s service territory, early spring to early summer marks a period of Osprey mating season. With that activity comes nest building. Many times nests are built on top of electric distribution structures. Of all the Lakeland Electric customer outage causes in the fiscal year 2014, 39 percent were caused by animals, out of which Ospreys were 50 percent.
System Operations Engineer Stephen Perkins works on investigating outages, equipment failures, accidents, and improving reliability in areas such as animal protection. Over the years he has been investigating what can be done to protect the Ospreys as well as continuously improve the reliability program.
“Expanded efforts have been put into place in the last few years to monitor, respond and protect Ospreys and other large birds,” says Perkins. “Those efforts include the creation of an email group that is used to report Osprey activity. The recipients of these emails include an employee that tracks the activity, reliability crews that act as first responders, an employee to schedule the work, a line crew specifically assigned to mitigate the activity, and an operations engineer researching present and cutting edge protective devices for future use.”
Ospreys’ wings span from 59” to 71”, which makes them vulnerable to electrocution due to spacing of our 12,470 volt primary power lines, which are 28” between phases for horizontal crossarms and 36” for vertical. It is impractical from a cost standpoint to modify the existing power lines to have spacing wider than the wings of the Ospreys. A lower cost alternative is to protect the Osprey from making contact with an energized conductor or deter them from approaching the energized conductors completely. These two alternatives are what Lakeland Electric and many other utilities are doing. The process is tracked and completed following set guidelines.
“Our process is once we know of a location out there,” says Perkins, “not only do we go out and fix it but we continue to monitor for a few days after the protection is installed to make sure it is working.”
A variety of materials are incorporated for the protection process of Ospreys. A method that has been successful is a piece of PVC pipe that is fixed above a set of cross arms and is loose to rotate. When the Osprey lands on it, the PVC pipe moves and keeps the bird from perching.
Another method has been to drill holes in a PVC pipe where wire is put through, making it impossible for the Osprey to build a nest there. Plastic deterrents have been a safer alternative to use since wires tend to be conductive.
Alternative nesting sites have also been built to fit specifications. Metal dishes, which look like small satellite dishes, are put on top of an alternative structure with a pole nearby, encouraging the Osprey to move its location to the designated platform.
Lakeland Electric crews also know removing old nesting sites is the key in eliminating future hazards. Just tearing the nest down and leaving the sticks at the base of the poll will allow the Osprey to come back, pick the sticks up and put them on top of the poll. Therefore, our crews are instructed that an abandoned nest needs to be completely removed by precise guidelines that will cause an Osprey to have to rebuild a nest completely if it comes back.
Preventing the Osprey from creating problems in the electric system increases the reliability of Lakeland Electric and benefits our customers with working electricity. Assistant General Manager John McMurray oversees the vision of the project with increasing levels of awareness and efforts of avian protection.
“Lakeland Electric wants to protect wildlife from our electrical lines and equipment,” says McMurray. “We consider the reduction in outages a success due to the fact that we are making progress in protecting Ospreys from our lines thus reducing Osprey-caused outages.”
Since October 2014, Lakeland Electric experienced six Osprey-caused feeder outages during the first half of fiscal year 2015 and two during the first half of fiscal year 2016.
Wanting to get the number of outages the average customer receives to one or less, McMurray set a System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) goal of 1.27 for 2015. SAIFI is calculated with the number of customer interruptions divided by the total number of customers served. At the end of 2015, the actual SAIFI was 1.35. The SAIFI goal for 2016 remains at 1.27, and with efforts such as the Osprey Protection Program, the team is well on their way to meeting that goal.
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:27 p.m.
LAKELAND | Theresa Kotomski wasn't about to let herself get scammed when she answered the phone Wednesday morning."It was a woman who did not identify herself, and I could tell she was reading what she was saying from a paper," said Kotomski. The 71-year-old Lakeland resident previously worked as a customer financial services representative for 13 years."It was 9:39 in the morning. "I'm on the Do Not Call List, which shows you all the good that does." According to Kotomski, the caller proceeded to claim she represented a company and that Lakeland Electric would be raising her power bill by 30 percent. The change would be ¬reflected in her current bill."They told me they'd be in my neighborhood the next day, and they could talk to me about other, alternative options," Kotomski said.Kotomski's call came from the phone number 813-750-8040. Multiple calls from The Ledger to this number were greeted with an automated message accompanied by hold music. The call disconnected after about five minutes each time. Eric Olsen, interim chief investigator for the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency, said he is familiar with this type of call. "We have gotten a few calls about people purporting to represent utility companies or government organizations," Olsen said. "It's very similar to online phishing attempts." Phishing describes an electronic attempt to acquire personal information by posing as a trustworthy entity."The best thing for people to do, especially if they suspect something is wrong, is to call the utility company to verify," Olsen said.Kevin Cook, director of communications for the city of Lakeland, said there's only one way Lakeland Electric customers are notified of any rate changes."It's in their power bill," Cook said. He also has heard complaints from customers who have received calls similar to Kotomski's.Users at 800notes.com, an online directory of unknown callers, have posted complaints from the same number dating to October."It's probably a private organization that charges for audits," Cook said. He added Lakeland Electric conducts free in-home energy audits, and customers can call 863-834-6789. Kotomski called both Lakeland Electric and consumer protection, before filing a formal complaint."Somebody at Lakeland Electric told me they'd gotten a call from another senior who was crying because they'd told her that her power would be turned off," Kotomski said. "What bothered me the most is that I don't know how they got my number."Read the full article on The Ledger.com
LAKELAND, FL (JUNE 1, 2015) —
LAKELAND ELECTRIC FUEL CHARGE INCREASE EFFECTIVE AUGUST 2014
LAKELAND, FL (July 7, 2014) - The Lakeland City Commission voted to increase the fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers $2.50 cents per 1,000 kWh effective for meters read on or after August 1, 2014. The new fuel charge will be $45.85 per 1,000 kWh.
After listening to a presentation at the Monday, July 7th Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended an increase to the current fuel charge based on fuel forecasts and the need to purchase power while the base load units have been down for maintenance. The City Commission voted 6-1 for the increase.
The base rate includes environmental compliance charges that are directly related to federal and state initiatives regarding clean air and water mandates. Most of the expenses are related to energy production and include air emission controls, water quality monitoring and capital spending for equipment necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.
Lakeland Electric bills are broken out for customer convenience in detail to show the base charge, fuel charge and appropriate taxes and service charges. The fuel charge on a utility bill is exactly that, the actual costs for fuel used to generate the amount of electricity used within your residence. Most utilities subscribe to the same billing practice and break out the base rate and the fuel charge for their customers. There is no mark-up in fuel. In fact, fuel is a straight pass-through charge to customers.
Based on Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates after the August 1, 2014 fuel charge increase will continue to be some of the lowest in the state.
LAKELAND, FL (April 7, 2014) - The Lakeland City Commission voted to increase the fuel charge for Lakeland Electric customers $2.50 cents per 1,000 kWh effective for meters read on or after May 1, 2014. The new fuel charge will be $43.35 per 1,000 kWh. After listening to a presentation at the Monday, April 7th Utility Committee meeting, staff recommended an increase to the current fuel charge based on fuel forecasts that indicates growing natural gas prices for the upcoming year. RESIDENTIAL RATES BASED ON 1,000 kWh
The base rate includes environmental compliance charges that are directly related to federal and state initiatives regarding clean air and water mandates. Most of the expenses are related to energy production and include air emission controls, water quality monitoring and capital spending for equipment necessary to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act. Lakeland Electric bills are broken out for customer convenience in detail to show the base charge, fuel charge and appropriate taxes and service charges. The fuel charge on a utility bill is exactly that, the actual costs for fuel used to generate the amount of electricity used within your residence. Most utilities subscribe to the same billing practice and break out the base rate and the fuel charge for their customers. There is no mark-up in fuel. In fact, fuel is a straight pass-through charge to customers.Based on Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates after the May 1, 2014 fuel charge increase will be the continue to be the lowest in the state.
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