AEP Wins Award for Pollinator Conservation

AEP received the first 2020 Pollinator Electric Power Award from the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), managed by Pollinator Partnership, for the company’s leadership in pollinator-friendly projects. This award was established by the NAPPC Pollinators on Managed Lands Task Force and sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). As a sponsor of the award, EPRI does not participate in the nomination process or award selection committee.

By implementing pollinator-friendly projects on managed lands, electric power companies can play a significant role in boosting pollinator habitat nationwide, including habitat for the imperiled native Monarch butterfly.

AEP is studying the substitution of native vegetation in place of traditional grasses to establish and maintain prairie habitat on typical transmission line upgrades while developing guidance and best management practices. Native prairie grasses and flowers may provide an improved alternate land use option that requires minimal maintenance once established. The native seeding approach can reduce erosion and provide drought-tolerant cover, while significantly improving the ecological value of rights-of-ways. Native seed mixes developed for AEP’s research projects include a variety of plants that attract pollinator species and support wildlife.

In one major research effort, AEP is collaborating with the nonprofit Dawes Arboretum (near Newark, Ohio) to create a biodiverse prairie habitat along a transmission line right-of-way. This approach may be a cost-effective way to fulfill electric utility vegetation management requirements while significantly improving the ecological value of the habitat. Researchers there are documenting rich biodiversity and monitoring habitat quality, erosion control and invasive tree growth. AEP also is involved with other sustainability-oriented pollinator initiatives and right-of-way vegetation management studies.

Tim Lohner and Amy Toohey, AEP environmental specialist consultants, accepted the award on AEP’s behalf at an Oct. 20, 2020, virtual ceremony during NAPPC’s annual conference hosted by the Pollinator Partnership and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.