Delaware scientist receives National Technology Award

Electric Power Research Institute recognizes an initiative that will improve system reliability while minimizing risk to bald eagles


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 3, 2018) – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recently honored Cristina Frank of Wilmington, DE, with the EPRI Energy and Environment Sector Technology Transfer Award. EPRI gives the award annually to utility employees who have explored and implemented innovative technologies on behalf of their company and the industry. Frank,  principal environmental scientist at Pepco Holdings, enhanced a company Avian Protection Plan by using telemetry to protect bald eagles, a federally protected species with a known vulnerability to power line collisions causing harm to eagles and potential power outages.

“We are committed to the safety of our customers and workers, and more than ever we are using innovative technologies that help maintain safe practices for birds and wildlife,” said Miguel Ortega, Pepco Holdings’ vice president of Technical Services. “I applaud Cristina for this well-deserved award and her ongoing efforts to help us address vulnerabilities to prevent injuries to bald eagles.”

Frank’s research incorporated telemetry data of eagle flight paths with geographic information systems data and existing distribution and transmission lines. The analysis identified 78 new eagle roosts in the company’s service area and highlighted 21 line segments with potential risk of collision. Incorporating eagle telemetry provided new data to reduce eagle collision outages and improve system reliability while minimizing injury and mortality risk to eagles.

Frank’s research was assisted by partners Kathleen Clark, principal zoologist, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife; and Libby Mojica, wildlife biologist, EDM International, Inc. Zoologist Clark fitted the nestlings with transmitters and provided the Pepco Holdings team with the flight data. Biologist Mojica performed the analysis to identify new roosts and high-risk collision areas. Frank provided the infrastructure data that was required to determine risk and will implement protection strategies to reduce collision risk at the identified high-risk areas.

Pepco Holdings oversees the operation of three regional energy companies that are part of the Exelon family of companies: Atlantic City Electric in southern New Jersey, Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, and Pepco in the District of Columbia and Maryland.

The awards were presented during Technology Transfer Awards Dinner in Tampa, Fla. on March 13, 2018, in association with the Energy and Environment Sector Advisory meetings held that week.

PHOTO CAPTION: Cristina Frank (center) alongside her research partners at the Electric Power Research Institute’s Technology Transfer Awards Dinner in Tampa, Fla. (Photo: Courtesy of PEPCO).