- Constellation is also an active member and supporter of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) having been a member since 1989 and with nearly 2,000 certified acres.
Learn more about our environmental stewardship efforts in the Exelon Corporation 2011 Sustainability Report.
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Exelon has been a valued member of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) since 2005 and has eight nuclear sites certified under the council’s Wildlife at Work (WAW) and Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) programs. We have plans in place which identify rare, threatened and endangered species and sensitive habitats around our facilities in order to preserve these valuable natural resources.
- In 2011, WHC issued Wildlife at Work(SM) certifications to Braidwood Power Plant, Byron Power Plant, LaSalle Power Plant, and Three Mile Island Power Plant for successful implementation of comprehensive wildlife habitat management programs.
- Exelon Generation is also working to certify is Dresden Power Plant in 2012, such that all wholly owned Exelon Nuclear Power Plants will have been certified under the program.
- In addition, the WHC certified Right-of-Way projects under both PECO and BGE in 2011.
- At this time, Exelon and Constellation combined have 15 sites active in the program.
American Shad Restoration on the Susquehanna River
Exelon Generation operates two fish lifts at its Conowingo Hydroelectric Power Plant in a continuing effort to help restore American shad and other migratory fish to the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Conowingo’s West Fish Lift has operated since 1972 and the East Fish Lift since 1991.
In 2011, the East Fish Lift passed hundreds of thousands of fish, including American Shad (20,571), Blue-black Herring, Alewife, Gizzard Shad, Hickory Shad, Stripped Bass and others. American Shad that are passed through the fish lifts continue their upriver migratory swim for spawning. The total number of American shad that have been physically transported upriver since 1972, passively passed through the East Fish Lift, as well as through tank spawning and biological study, now stands at more than 1.3 million.
Building fish ladders for shad on the Schuylkill River
In 2010, Exelon Power also completed construction of and began operation of a fish passage facility at the Black Rock Dam on the Schuylkill River to allow for northward migration of American shad. With 2011 as its first full year of operation, 1,500 fish passed through this new ladder, 2 of which were American Shad. Exelon has constructed a similar passageway about 10 miles south at the Norristown Dam, which was opened in the Spring of 2008 and turned over to Montgomery County, PA Parks. Prior to reaching these dams, the shad must pass three downriver dams not owned by Exelon. These passageways—with a capacity of 25,000 shad per day—will enable the shad to migrate upriver for its springtime spawning; something it hasn’t been able to do for over 200 years.
- Protecting tropical forests & biodiversity in Peru
- Exelon’s grant of $1.5 million to The Field Museum’s Environmental, Culture and Conservation unit (ECCo) extends our efforts to address climate change beyond our service areas. This grant will support ECCo’s work with local Peruvian organizations to protect the Cordillera Azul National Park. The unit’s work translates museum science into conservation programs that will help protect the park from deforestation and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. A portion of the grant will help create a credible system for defining carbon offsets.
Quad Cities Walleye and Hybrid Striped Bass Hatchery on the Mississippi River
In 2011, the hatchery at Exelon’s Quad Cities Nuclear Power Station stocked the Mississippi River with 360,000 walleye advanced fingerlings, 1.5 million walleye fry and 5,500 hybrid striped bass yearlings. This far exceeds our annual stocking target of 175,000 fish.
Naturalizing rights of ways
Exelon manages nearly 30,000 acres of right-of-way (ROW) in ComEd territory and 13,500 acres in PECO territory (owned, easements or shared right-of-ways). Our vegetation management program uses safe, reliable and cost-effective methods, including tree trimming, removal and herbicide application. These methods follow the standards set by the American National Standards Institute, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the International Society of Arboriculture.
Exelon delivery companies, ComEd and PECO, support municipalities by funding the removal and replacement of diseased, weakened or tall-growing trees under our overhead conductors. ComEd and PECO also support National Arbor Day by working with school groups, municipalities and civic organizations to supply trees and planting training.
“Natural areas” are sections of ROW where PECO actively develops and maintains low-growing, native plant communities (grasses, wild flowers, shrubs, small trees) that are compatible with electric transmission lines and enhances habitat diversity and erosion control. In the last three years, PECO has installed 87 acres of native grass meadows on their ROWs. By encouraging the return of native plant species, PECO reduces the use of chemicals and long-term maintenance costs, while providing better cover for wildlife and improving stormwater management. Many of PECO’s projects have brought great benefit to the surrounding communities. For instance, the 18-acre project in Whitemarsh Township, Pa., received the Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and BASF’s Quality Vegetation Management Project Habitat Award in 2010.
- Both ComEd and PECO are recognized under the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA Award. The Tree Line USA program promotes the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas - Recognizing best practices in utility arboriculture.
Working in partnership to restore prairie grass
Although Illinois is known as the “Prairie State,” less than 0.01% of Illinois’ original 21 million acres of prairie, remains today. Most remaining prairies survive only as tiny, isolated patches, and many species of prairie plants and animals have either disappeared or are in rapid decline due to loss of habitat.
In 1994, ComEd initiated a program to restore native prairie habitats on transmission ROWs and buffer areas to reduce maintenance costs and provide habitat for native plant and animal species. The successful installation of prairie habitats along ROWs creates environmental value by improving wildlife habitat, increasing carbon sequestration, preventing runoff, slowing erosion and improving water quality in neighboring areas. At this time, ComEd manages approximately 250 acres of native prairie grass.
Two of ComEd's prairie locations have been certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. In addition, we have partnered with local agencies such as the Forest Preserve District of Will County, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, McHenry County Conservation District, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to manage transmission rights of way in conjunction with larger restoration projects.
Constellation continues to work with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) to certify sites at applicable locations. Read more in Constellation's 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
Caring for Wetlands
Wetlands are important resources that serve as habitat for a variety of species. Exelon is committed to ensuring that all wetlands on the properties that it owns are protected in all aspects of its day-to-day, as well as emergency operations. It is estimated that within the 1,085 miles of transmission lines that PECO operates, it has been estimated that there are approximately two to three wetlands and/or stream crossings for every system mile of right-of-way.
Over the past few years, PECO has been working toward mapping these wetland areas in a GIS system to promote early identification and better management of its wetland resources. PECO also provides training to its repair crews on the importance of wetland identification and permitting. As part of the Smart Grid project, where new fiber optic wire is required throughout its service territory, PECO coordinated an effort with the PADEP and U.S. FWS on a consolidated wetlands permit and soil erosion and sediment control plan that could be implemented along the transmission areas county-wide, saving considerable time and cost for all parties involved.
Protecting Endangered Species
In recent years, a number of species on federal, state and local endangered lists have made their homes at Exelon sites. We take our responsibility to protect endangered species seriously and work with local government and civic groups to accommodate their needs while on our sites. Examples include:
- Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana)
When the dragonfly, which is on the federal endangered species list, was discovered, ComEd stopped injecting insecticide into power poles along Illinois Highway 53. ComEd is currently working with industry partners and government agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), to develop a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the dragonfly.
- Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
A pair of bald eagles has nested on the cooling lake at our Clinton nuclear plant. The bald eagle is a threatened species in Illinois, so the area around the nesting eagles has been cordoned off by buoys. Exelon donated the full cost of the buoys, which were then installed by the IDNR. The rest of the lake remains open for fishing and recreation.
Bald eagles also nest on power line towers at Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River. The pond created by our hydroelectric generating station—which straddles the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania —and the adjacent 9,000 acres of uplands provide ideal habitat for the birds, which are listed as threatened in both states. Over 70 individual eagles were observed during a single day “Eagle Watch” event in January 2009 at Conowingo.
- Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Peregrines, an endangered species in New Jersey, nest in the vicinity of our Oyster Creek nuclear plant. The plant’s staff has worked with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program to band and track the falcons’ migration. Also, since the spring of 2002, a pair of peregrine falcons has made the side of the Three Mile Island Containment Building their home.
- Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempi)
These turtles, which are on the federal endangered species list, visit New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay and sometimes enter the cooling water intake canal at Oyster Creek. The power plant monitors the intake and transfers the rescued turtles to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, to be rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitat.
- Higgins’ Eye Mussel (Lampsilis higginsii)
Scientists continually survey the freshwater mussel beds near our Quad Cities nuclear plant for the Higgins’ eye, which is on the federal endangered species list. Preliminary data and field observations suggest that the mussel communities are stable and have not been adversely impacted by plant operations.