In an effort to help PG&E’s agricultural customers learn more about protecting wildlife and reducing energy usage, the utility partnered with the Central Coast Vineyard Team to host several workshops on the Central Coast where PG&E-funded owl nest boxes were given to participants.
The Conservation Strategies with PG&E: Wildlife and Energy workshops were held Feb. 19 and 20 at Byron Winery in Santa Maria and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in Paso Robles. The tailgate-style sessions reached out to grape growers.
The two-part session provided hands-on information and assistance for managing PG&E bills as well as information on bird diversity and protection in vineyards.
PG&E’s Mike Best, avian protection manager, helped explain the utility’s efforts to protect birds while still providing customers with safe, reliable energy. Specifically, he addressed concerns about customers attaching owl boxes to power poles, which could result electrocutions of the birds, outages and in some cases, fires.
The Los Padres Division Energy Solutions and Services team’s Rebecca Weber, customer relationship manager, Tom Lorish, senior customer relationship manager, and Eric Linkugel, supervisor, conducted an interactive workshop on how farmers could use PG&E tools and programs – such as My Energy, Time-of-Use and Demand Responsestrategies — to reduce their energy costs. This was followed by one-on-one consulting including being online to do live rate analysis.
A $10,000 PG&E grant provided owl nest boxes and vertical wooden poles for farmers to safely install in their vineyards. Owls are welcomed by farmers because they help control the rodent population in their fields.
“We are trying to get the word out that utility poles are not the appropriate place to install nest boxes,” said Best.
The Central Coast Vineyard Team distributed the white owl nest boxes to about 60 farmers who took part in the workshops.