Wildlife Habitat Council Land Preservation
Formed in 1988, WHC was the first organization to bring together conservation and business. WHC works with corporations and other landowners to create tailored voluntary wildlife habitat enhancement and conservation education programs on corporate facilities and in the communities where they operate.
Exelon Corporation has certified 16 sites under the council’s Wildlife at Work (WAW) and Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) programs. We have plans in place that identify rare, threatened and endangered species and sensitive habitats around our facilities in order to preserve these valuable natural resources.
Migratory Fish Passage
American Shad Restoration on the Susquehanna River
Our Conowingo hydroelectric facility on the Susquehanna River in Maryland passes through hundreds of thousands of fish, including American Shad, 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 fish lift on the east side of the dam was used to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home (USFWS) activities related to studying and protecting this sensitive species of migrating fish. Exelon Nuclear is contributing $50,000 per year over five years (2011 to 2015) toward a project of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boating Commission to increase egg viability of American shad in the river. We are also cooperating with USFWS to assist in its eel studies along the west bank of the Susquehanna River upstream of Conowingo.
At our generating stations that require large amounts of water – primarily hydroelectric and nuclear facilities – we have instituted measures to reduce the potential impacts on fish and other aquatic species. Screens on the water intakes at our nuclear facilities prevent most fish from being drawn into the cooling system. For hydroelectric facilities in active fish migration areas, we have installed and evaluated various types of structures – for instance, lifts or ladders – that allow migrating fish to travel upstream and downstream without contacting the generating equipment.
Both the Conowingo facility and the nearby Muddy Run pumped storage facility are undergoing relicensing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. During 2012, we submitted these license applications and responded to information requests from regulators. As part of the regulatory review process, during 2013 we will continue to engage with interested stakeholders regarding fish passage, management of species of concern and recreation and shoreline management.
Exelon continues to fund the Trout Unlimited stream restoration project on Climbers Run, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. The project partners include Trout Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Lancaster Conservation District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Across the Susquehanna Basin, Trout Unlimited is conducting sediment control projects in four different cold water streams (including Climbers Run); these combined efforts are estimated to reduce sediment introduction to the Chesapeake Bay by more than 600 tons annually.
Caring for Wetlands
Wetlands are important resources that serve as habitats 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 in emergency operations. It is estimated that within the 1,085 miles of transmission lines that PECO operates, 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 geographic information system (GIS) 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 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (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.
Naturalizing rights of way
Across our operating area, we own or manage significant tracts of land for generating facilities and transmission lines that also serve as habitat for a diverse range of plant and animal species. We implement a number of initiatives to support the natural ecology on our properties and mitigate any adverse impacts that may occur due to our operations. These include:
Right-of-Way (ROW) Management. Transmission line ROWs need to be regularly trimmed to protect transmission lines. They also present an opportunity for instituting management practices that benefit plants and wildlife that require open, low-growing habitats. We undertake a number of initiatives to promote diverse habitats in our ROWs.
- In ComEd’s territory, we manage most of the 30,000 acres of transmission ROW as natural areas, including approximately 250 acres of native prairie grass.
- PECO maintains natural conditions and native species on 2,179 of its total 13,500 acres of ROW under management. In the last four years, PECO has planted 123 acres of native grass meadows on these ROWs.
- BGE actively manages approximately 7,000 acres of its total 10,500 acres of ROW to control tall-growing vegetation and encourage more desirable low-growing plants. The Wildlife Habitat Council has recognized BGE’s innovative practices by granting Wildlife at Work certification to portions of our ROWs where it supports meadow and old field ecosystems.
- BGE,ComEd and PECO are all 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.
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.
- 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 Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 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.
- 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 its 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.
- Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis) and the Puritan Tiger Beetle (Cicindela puritan)
Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant is in the center of a significant wildlife corridor, located directly on Chesapeake Bay. The property adjoins the Flag Ponds Nature Park to the north, and Calvert Cliffs State Park to the south. The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant wildlife team manages the cliffs and beaches as habitat for a large percentage of the world population of two species of tiger beetle: the northeastern beach tiger beetle and the Puritan tiger beetle. Both species are federally threatened and listed as endangered in the State of Maryland.