As we build and maintain new and existing infrastructure across our service territory, such as transmission or renewable generation facilities, we are mindful of the potential impacts we might have on wildlife species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and we take the necessary steps to ensure their protection. For example, we periodically encounter habitats that may support rare or endangered species, such as the American burying beetle and the Indiana bat.
AEP is participating in the development of a collaborative monarch butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement which will help support the rehabilitation of the monarch butterfly’s population.
AEP is currently working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the American burying beetle (ABB). This beetle is listed as endangered and the HCP is a mechanism by which AEP can comply with the ESA. The HCP deals with potential impacts from our transmission and distribution operations, maintenance, and construction activities over the next 30 years. The federal permit associated with the HCP will help AEP continue to operate efficiently to provide safe and reliable electricity to meet the energy needs of our customers while assisting in the conservation of the ABB and its habitat. We anticipate receiving the permit from USFWS by the end of 2018.
Simultaneously, AEP is working with USFWS on a 30-year system-wide, programmatic HCP dealing with about 15 other species potentially affected by the Company’s transmission construction activities, including the federally endangered Indiana bat, whooping crane, red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and rusty patched bumble bee. This HCP is currently in the drafting stage and is expected to bring predictability and efficiency to the consultation and mitigation process with USFWS while providing tangible benefits to the covered bat, bird, plant and other terrestrial species in all eleven states in which AEP traditionally operates.
As the USFWS decides whether to list the monarch butterfly as a protected species under the ESA, AEP is working with stakeholders to protect the monarch. A significant component of the ESA is the limitation that it places on activities within designated critical habitat areas of listed species. Monarch butterflies, for example, rely on areas where milkweed plants are available for migration, which significantly overlaps with AEP’s generation and transmission network.
In 2018, AEP is participating in the development of a collaborative monarch butterfly Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), which brings together stakeholders to commit to proactive conservation measures throughout various industries. CCAAs are administered by the USFWS. This action can support the rehabilitation of the monarch butterfly’s population while also encouraging other enterprises such as electric, gas, and oil companies to follow our example through the collaborative nature of this agreement.
AEP has also joined the EPRI Power in Pollinators Initiative, which seeks to address issues of concern regarding important pollinator species, such as bees, beetles, butterflies and other insects. Pollinating insects are necessary to support production of many of our food crops, such as apples, tomatoes and watermelon. Many of these insects are under stress and AEP is working with EPRI and other electric utilities to find ways to support and protect pollinating insects, birds and other associated wildlife.