Vegetation Management
Vegetation Management Planning

Integrated vegetation management is the process of identifying and responding to vegetation posing a threat to powerlines, creating a safe pathway for utility workers. One of the most important aspects of vegetation management is the emphasis on preventative maintenance, which is the best means for controlling plant growth. Removal of threats like fallen trees on wires or powerlines is also essential. Here’s how to craft a vegetation management plan that accounts for all of this.

Getting Started

Vegetation management companies work with co-ops, municipalities and public utilities providers to formulate a recurring plan based on the types of vegetation present, the climate and other company-specific needs. Working with an integrated vegetation management company helps these clients to reduce power outages and provide more reliable energy to households across the United States.

Components of a Plan

Each vegetation management plan should be unique to the needs of the client and geographic area. The different factors that could be included in your plan include:
  • Hazardous Tree Removal – When a tree has the potential to fall due to poor structural integrity or health, it is considered hazardous. Removing these sickly trees reduces blackouts and wildfires that could be started when a tree falls on a powerline.
  • Pruning and Canopy Trimming – Pruning and canopy trimming on healthy trees helps to control growth near powerlines. In most cases, tree companies will utilize a technique called “directional pruning” to control growth. This method ensures the structural integrity of the tree stays intact by removing branches growing towards conductors or powerlines.
  • Herbicides – The use of herbicides is one of the most cost-effective ways to control vegetation growth. This technique allows companies to control growth before it becomes a problem, making maintenance easier.
  • Brush Removal – Low-lying vegetation can be as much of a hazard as trees, leading to fires and outages without proper upkeep. In addition, brush removal makes it possible for utility workers and crew members to access the right-of-way for inspections and maintenance.

An effective plan will likely utilize a mix of the above features, depending on the specific needs of your company.

Clearance Requirements

Federal laws require that the minimum clearance requirement between vegetation and transmission be obtained at all times. Seasonal conditions create different challenges in meeting these requirements—for example, it’s common for power lines to sag in the summer months because of warm weather and high wind speeds. Factors like these should be considered in your vegetation management plan. Additionally, clearance levels may need to go beyond the minimum requirements to account for vegetation growth rates.

Having a well-formulated vegetation management plan in place helps utility companies, co-ops and municipalities stay in compliance and avoid costly fines from state and federal regulations. By partnering with the right company for your vegetation management needs, you can reduce blackouts or electrical hazards that can affect client satisfaction, safety and your bottom line.
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