OTEC is constantly working on solutions for both the birds and the cooperative.
Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC) service area covers approximately 7,500 square miles of Northeast Oregon. Counties served include Baker, Grant, Harney and Union. OTEC provides electric service to municipalities and rural areas within these four counties. The area map at the end of this section shows an overview of the OTEC service territory.
OTEC’s service territory has diverse and extreme geological variations. Although large portions of the area are very rugged terrain, irrigated farmland development has made agriculture a viable industry in the four counties. Potatoes, mint, grass seed, alfalfa, corn and wheat are many of the crops grown in this area.
Irrigated fields are favorite hunting areas for raptors due to the large number of small rodents and the open terrain. Small rodents and birds of all types live off the grains and seeds found in these fields. Considerable water availability is also utilized throughout the service territory by many game and non-game bird species.
OTEC has employed several methods to minimize interaction between birds and power lines over the years. Construction methods have been updated in an effort to increase spacing between energized components on power structures. This in combination with an increased use of insulated materials during construction has substantially reduced electrocution risk to raptors and decreased the number of raptors experiencing electrical injury each year. In addition to evolving construction standards, OTEC has initiated the use of nesting platforms and bird guard devices in critical raptor nesting locations. The process often involves coordination with land owners and installation of nesting platforms that are completely separate from the power structures supporting energized components. Finally, substation upgrades and maintenance now include the installation of bird guard devices to minimize bird mortality and bird related outages.
OTEC constantly strives to maintain a healthy balance between environmental stewardship and a reasonable cost for the electricity we provide. With this goal in mind and an eye toward the future, we hope to simultaneously improve the quality of life for birds and people in our local region.
Read our March 2013 Ruralite article highlighting OTEC's Avian Protection Program attached below.