Many of the foods, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines we rely on every day require plants that need to be pollinated by animals and insects. In fact, 180,000 different plant species and more than 1,200 crops rely on pollination from birds, bats, bees, butterflies and other animals. Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather and support other wildlife. Yet according to the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators, many pollinator populations are declining.
To raise awareness about this important issue, FirstEnergy once again celebrated National Pollinator Week (June 17-23) in conjunction with Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Power-in-Pollinators Initiative. We joined more than 20 other utility companies in sharing information about how to protect pollinator species through our social media posts and at educational events for employees.
🌱🦋🐝 Our vegetation management team is wrapping up #PollinatorWeek by sharing pollinator info and handing out seed packets to employees across our footprint. Once grown, these nectar-rich plants will attract pollinators like butterflies and bees. #PowerInPollinators pic.twitter.com/5RHG7vCsnj— FirstEnergy Corp. (@firstenergycorp) June 21, 2019
Power in Pollinators
As more areas are developed, the electric utility industry is positioned to create habitats along transmission corridors that benefit a new generation of pollinators. Pollinators thrive in the open areas along transmission rights-of-way because they can find food, nectar and cover to nest that is unavailable in the deep woods.
With this in mind, FirstEnergy employs integrated vegetation management practices along approximately 24,500 miles of transmission lines to promote and protect pollinators. By replacing incompatible vegetation that could contact power lines with low-growing shrubs and wildflowers, we’re establishing habitats where pollinators can flourish – all while keeping the lights on for our customers.
Additional initiatives include a research project with EPRI and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry to better understand plant species in transmission line corridors that could help rejuvenate declining populations of pollinating insects. FirstEnergy also sponsored and participated in the Monarch Right of Way project with Ohio State University-Mansfield along one of our transmission corridors.
Taking Action During National Pollinator Week
As part of FirstEnergy’s National Pollinator Week festivities, a pollinator garden was planted at the Richland, Pa., Service Center during a family education day attended by more than a dozen Penelec employees and their children. This was the first of several pollinator gardens that will be developed at our company facilities. Pollinator information and wildflower seeds to plant at home also were distributed to employees at several corporate offices.
Additionally, foresters from FirstEnergy and other utilities joined Penn State research experts near State College, Pa., to see firsthand how managing vegetation along transmission lines can benefit pollinators. The work to support pollinators along rights-of-way at Pennsylvania State Game Lands 33 – a partnership between FirstEnergy, the PA State Game Commission and Penn State – is the longest running experiment of its type in the country.
Bee a Pollinator Supporter
FirstEnergy’s vegetation management practices are leading the way in helping pollinators prosper, and you can help, too.
For more information on pollinators and how you can bee a pollinator advocate, visit www.pollinator.org. Or, follow the #PollinatorWeek and #PowerInPollinators hashtags on Twitter for National Pollinator Week coverage and pollinator info and tips.