Trees and other vegetation in close proximity to electric facilities is not only the leading cause of power outages, but also represents a safety risk to utility workers and the general public. VEC takes very seriously its responsibility to reduce risks to both reliability and safety. You can view VEC’s latest vegetation management plan here. You can also read a description of general utility vegetation management practices here.
Statement of Purpose/Goals & Objectives
The VEC Vegetation Management Department is responsible for maintaining vegetation in order to minimize the threat it poses to electric facilities. The vegetation management program takes an environmentally-responsible approach to improve reliability, provide for safe and efficient operation and maintenance of distribution and transmission systems, maximize cost-effectiveness, and enhance member satisfaction. VEC has established a target of attaining a five-year vegetation maintenance cycle on transmission rights-of-way and an eight year maintenance cycle on distribution rights-of-way.
Integrated Vegetation Management
VEC employs Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM), a system of managing plant communities that considers a combination of methods to control undesirable vegetation and that includes biological, chemical, cultural and physical (e.g. mechanical and manual) methods of control. In general, physical and/or chemical control methods are the most appropriate and most frequently used vegetation control options for utility rights-of-way. The retention of low-growing, compatible vegetation will inhibit the future growth of incompatible species and is therefore considered a form of biological control. Other biological controls (e.g. grazing by animals) and cultural controls (e.g. using fire to eliminate undesirable vegetation) have limited application and are seldom used. (See section below for more information on herbicide application.)
Maintenance of rights-of-way generally involves the cutting of all brush (up to 25 feet on each side of the center of the pole line for distribution lines and up to 50 feet on each side for transmission lines) to ground level, as well as proper pruning of all branches growing towards conductors and removal of any/all trees that cannot be properly pruned to provide adequate clearance. In some cases, trees that could pose a particular threat to conductors or structures are removed regardless of distance from the center of the pole line.
Pre-work Member Notification
Before doing vegetation management work on an individual’s property, VEC or the contractor who is doing the work makes every reasonable effort to contact the property owner before starting work.
In cases where VEC or contractors have not been able to notify landowners in person, maintenance activities will not take place for a minimum of five days after a message is left (either phone or hang tag). If five days have passed and the member has not made contact with the specified foreperson maintenance activities will take place without any further notice.
A reasonable effort will be made to identify property owners at locations where there is not a nearby residence.
When applying herbicides, VEC conducts general notification to landowners according to Vermont Public Service Board Rule 3.6 and the Vermont Regulations for the Control of Pesticides. Property owners who live within 1,000 feet of a utility right-of-way may be eligible to receive mail notifications before herbicide treatment. To apply, property owners are required to fill out an Herbicide Public Notice Coupon. In addition, VEC Vegetation Management staff provides contractors with the physical address of all individuals who have requested that herbicides not be utilized on their property.
The contractor is responsible for making personal contact with each individual who has requested that herbicides not be used and meeting with them to clearly identify their property lines on the ground prior to any herbicide applications.
In instances where the contractor cannot identify and/or contact a property owner, the contractor will work with VEC's Vegetation Management staff to determine the appropriate course of action prior to any herbicide application.
Brush, branches and woody debris from pruning and removal operations along roadsides and within manicured lawns will be chipped. In all other areas, the brush will be moved away from the poles, out from under the conductors and windrowed (placed in a long, low heap or pile) off to the side. Trees, which have been cut remain the property of the landowner and will be left on site. Trees that appear to contain log products will be left in long lengths (except when it is necessary to take them down in smaller sections) and all other wood will be blocked up and piled unless directed otherwise by the member.
VEC's forestry staff includes a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester and an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist.
For more information, please contact Sara Packer, VEC Transmission and Distribution Vegetation Management Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.