FirstEnergy Developing Pollinator Habitat Along Pennsylvania Transmission Line
Company is working to create 225 pollinator-friendly acres by 2025
GREENSBURG, Pa., July 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — While performing work to strengthen the electric grid in northeastern Pennsylvania, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) has seeded nearly three acres of right of way along a high-voltage transmission line in Bradford and Susquehanna counties with a native seed mix designed to establish pollinator-friendly habitat.
Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission (MAIT), a FirstEnergy subsidiary, is currently upgrading a 20-mile segment of the 115-kilovolt transmission line between the East Towanda and North Meshoppen substations, replacing wooden poles with steel monopoles and installing new, larger wires that can handle additional demand if other lines in the area are out of service. The project is expected to be complete in late 2023.
Where a portion of the right of way was cleared to accommodate a longer span of the line, FirstEnergy seeded the area with a seed mix featuring native grasses and flowers that will help control soil erosion while also establishing habitat for small animals and insects that pollinate plants, such as birds, bats, bees, butterflies and beetles.
“By integrating a native seed mix into transmission projects such as this one, we can enhance service reliability for our customers while also demonstrating our commitment to reduce our impact on the environment and support the creation of pollinator habitats across our service territory,” said Michael Haines, a FirstEnergy supervisor of Transmission Construction Vegetation Management who is leading this effort.
FirstEnergy is working to develop 225 acres of pollinator habitat across its service territory by 2025, including the creation of new habitat in transmission right of ways, at its electric substation properties and at parks and nature preserves. After beginning with a pilot program in 2020, the company expanded the initiative within its service territory and is now on pace to exceed 200 pollinator-friendly acres by the end of this year.
Pollinators help to sustain ecosystems and play a vital role in helping plants reproduce. In return, the plants produce fruits and vegetables, prevent soil erosion and increase carbon sequestration.
Many pollinator populations are in decline due to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats, according to Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. Each year, the organization manages Pollinator Week, an annual celebration in support of pollinator health that ran from June 19-25 this year.
In early 2020, FirstEnergy’s transmission vegetation management group established a pilot program to find opportunities to restore work areas following transmission construction projects with flowering vegetation to develop a pollinator-friendly habitat. The company worked with a horticulturist in Meadville, Pennsylvania, to develop two seed mixes with more than 20 flowering species that are native throughout the six states in which FirstEnergy operates. One of the mixes contains added grasses that will help it take root along steep slopes, and both mixes can be used across the company’s service territory.
Additionally, the company seeded 16 acres within a transmission right of way in Adams County, Pennsylvania, earlier this year and plans to seed an additional 10 acres at a transmission line right of way in Lebanon County later this year.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.
Editor’s Note: Photos of pollinator habitat developed by FirstEnergy are available for download on Flickr.
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SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.
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