Helicopters will be seen flying curiously close to Duke Energy transmission line towers in Wilkes and Alleghany counties next month.
They will be used for placing protective shields on towers that support transmission lines to prevent turkey vultures from causing power outages by defecating on them, said Duke Energy spokesman Meghan Miles.
“Buzzards (turkey vultures) present a reliability challenge along some of our largest power lines by gathering on top of transmission line towers and depositing waste that, when accumulated, can cause an outage,” said Miles.
Turkey vulture droppings can corrode and damage electronic circuitry, causing power outages and costly damage.
Miles said the protective shields will be placed on towers on about 27 miles of transmission towers running from Duke Energy’s Antioch Substation in the Antioch community east of North Wilkesboro to a point near the North Carolina/Virginia border north of Sparta.
The Antioch Substation is off Thurman Sparks Road.
“We do not anticipate any power outages related to this project,” she said.
Helicopters will deliver the shields to crews on the towers who will secure them in place.
The shields are made from 36-inch and 60-inch diameter corrugated high-density polyethylene pipes cut lengthwise into quarters.
Miles said work is scheduled to start Oct. 1 at the Antioch substation at 940 Thurman Sparks Road and proceed north as weather permits.
Completion by the end of October is the goal.
She said similar Duke Energy projects are planned over the next few months in several areas across the state, including on towers for lines extending from Durham to Person County and a line in the Concord/Charlotte area.
“We reached out to property owners along the lines to notify them about this work,” said Miles.
It’s part of overall Duke Energy efforts to make grid improvements and protect energy infrastructure and essential systems from physical threats, including severe weather and animal impacts.