Duke Energy takes flight to protect against outages

Duke Energy employees know all too well -- birds and electrical wires just don't mix.

Hoping to make those wires, which can be hard to see, a little more obvious to anything that flies, Duke Energy workers took a flight of their own.

From their helicopter, they were able to get a birds-eye view as they placed bright yellow bird diverters along the wires.

Earlier this year, Tropicana Field went dark during a Rays game after a bird's nest fell into a nearby substation.

"Everything from snakes to squirrels to birds can cause power outages within our system," said Ana Gibbs, a spokesperson for Duke Energy. "We do have all different types of critters that get into our lines."

These power outages caused by animals are a common occurrence in Florida. According to Gibbs, Duke Energy Florida experienced roughly 4,500 animal-related outages in 2018.

"Because the line is smaller, it's much more difficult for birds to see the line," said Gibbs. "By putting the bird diverter devices, they're yellow and bright, birds are less likely to run into that line."

In just a matter of hours, nearly 200 diverters were placed along a three-mile stretch of powerline in Clearwater. It's the latest addition in Duke Energy's ongoing effort to harden and improve their systems.

"The bird diverter is both to help what we call better reliability, and we want to protect the birds also," said Gibbs.

The bird diverters follow the addition of updated wires and new, sturdier concrete poles.

For Duke Energy, it's a constant pattern of getting rid of the old to make room for the new, in an effort to be prepared for any storm or critter that might cross their path.