Lori Nielsen joined WEST in 2015 as a Research Biologist and Project Manager. She brings over 30 years of experience, integrating a unique blend of environmental regulations, wildlife biology, power line infrastructure, and how these apply to renewable energy projects. Prior to joining WEST, Lori worked to help resolve avian interactions with power lines throughout the United States and in Canada, expanding the knowledge and understanding of some of these complexities, both technical and political.
Lori received a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from Oklahoma State University in 1982. Between 1986 and 2001, she primarily worked under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), laying a regulatory foundation. Since 2001, she expanded her professional expertise into avian risk assessment and problem resolution for bird electrocutions and collisions with overhead power lines and siting of communication towers to minimize collision risk, in accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA).
Lori’s approach in assessing avian risks with electric infrastructure incorporates the changing regulatory scrutiny and engineering advances in bird protection on power lines and how these factors integrate with renewable energy projects, where systems differ from conventional energy generation, transmission, and distribution. She also works with companies and agencies on the application of the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee 2006 and 2012 guidelines for minimizing bird electrocution and collision, respectively, since interpretations can vary among users.
Lori has managed over 50 Avian Protection Plans (APPs) and other avian studies specific to power lines, ranging among an unprecedented, statewide initiative for the Colorado electric cooperatives to multi-year, interstate APP projects for large investor-owned utilities to Department of Defense installations. Lori also has a passion for document quality and has over 20 years technical editing experience, emphasizing clear communications to target audiences, report defensibility under applicable regulatory mechanisms, and finding consensus among stakeholders. She presents and trains on these topics around the U.S., presenting to a wide range of agencies and industry.