consulting utility foresters who we are and what we do june 2012 heidi knapp transmission consulting...
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Consulting Utility ForestersWho we are and what we doJune 2012Heidi KnappTransmission Consulting Utility ForesterISA Certified ArboristArbormetrics Solutions, Inc.Asplundh Tree Expert Co.
*Identify annual maintenance work in the field, based on the utilitys requirements and line safety regulations.Notify the public in the areas in which we will be working. Gain permission and specialized instructions from the affected property owners or other jurisdictions for completion of the negotiated work.Provide tree crews with detailed work instructions to increase their efficiency and relay any special requests from the customers.Inspect the finished work on the corridors and maintain related documentation.Our basic functions as Utility Arborist Consultants
*Meeting PSEs high standards of customer service:Our goal is to maintain good customer relations when negotiating vegetation work along the rights-of-way. This applies to all of our personnel, whether they be tree workers or support staff.
Good communications are the essential key when associating with customers regarding our work.
A friendly and professional appearance and display of respect for property is the starting point in gaining consent for what we do.
A detailed enlightenment of the line safety and reliability factors is important.
Providing examples of the results of ineffective maintenance can portray the importance of our tasks.
People, for the most part, choose to be compliant.Electron Hydro Facility
How we do what we do:
Drastic changes took place with the induction of the new NERC-generated standards on high-voltage lines.*Goldendale
A Monumental Undertaking
Prior to 20073-year maintenance cycle
Topped trees, including natives, were allowed in the wire zone
Border zone was not established
No enforced mature plant height restrictions
After 2007Annual maintenance cycle
Removal of tall-growing vegetation from the wire and border zones
Border zone restrictions were also considered and implemented, and corridors were widened
Mature height limitation of vegetation established at 15 ft.*
Wire Zones and Border ZonesUsing the wire zone/border zone method for vegetation control means that only low-growing grasses and shrubs are allowed to grow in the area directly underneath the wires (wire zone). As you move away from the footprint of the wire towards the edge of the corridor (border zone), progressively larger types of vegetation are allowed.*
Implementation of the new planHoney, theyre gonna take down our treeee!
Mrs. Millers Buckley Giant*Breaking the news face to face was occasionally very emotionally challenging for both parties.
What were the negative reactions?Occasional work denialAngry, distraught, emotional customers
What did we do?Negotiated replacement vegetation or provided compensatory tree vouchers.Referred them to PSE for further negotiation pursuant to the refusal process.
Well then, what can I plant?In order to educate customers about proper replacement vegetation, we provided plant lists, reference materials, and landscape design consultation suitable for the new specifications of the transmission line right-of-ways. *
Before negotiations:Trees in wire & border zonesAfter negotiations:Replacement vegetation in wire & border zones*
Controlling the NativesVine Maple, Hazelnut, Elderberry,Cascara, Hawthorne, Serviceberry, Bitter Cherry, and many other medium-height natives must now beremoved from the transmission right-of-ways to meet the new specifications. This requires annual treatment of these prolific species, including within our state and county forest lands and sensitive areas. *
*Educational AssistanceWe are involved in many other PSE projects.
Elementary School Outreach and Education Community Arbor Day Event and Tree Planting
AMS is a subsidiary of ATE. As a PSE contractor, we perform utility line vegetation inspection pre-work, post-work, and annually as required by the utility. We locate, target, and notify customers of vegetation maintenance on PSEs overhead utility system throughout the state of Washington. Our scope of work encompasses customer relations and a working knowledge of vegetation and its risk factor in relation to the reliability and safety of the utility lines.*These are the basic nuts and bolts of what we do. There are many other functions and details that extenuate from this, but these steps are our main focus. The objective of our position is to provide the tree crews with detailed work instructions so that they can move down the line quickly and efficiently, and so that they are aware of the various situations pertaining to each property that they must access and perform work. **Sometimes this can be very challenging, given the intensity of peoples attachment to their trees and vegetation, whether or not they are planted. All situations are different and unique from one another just as individuals are, and must be handled with the same respect, regardless of easement rights and bylaws. We attempt to gain approvals for our work with a personal approach. We strive to accommodate and give a clear and concise outline to the customer prior to the proposed work on their property, as well as obtaining their consent. *Due to the extremely sensitive nature of our work, we must learn how to deal with conflict and opposition from owners and transform it into a positive working relationship. PSE provides updated education and materials for customer contact skills, including proper etiquette for conversation and communication via email and phone.
*Because of the widespread vegetation-related outages, and the aforementioned occurrence in the Eastern US, risk reduction was imminent. So in accordance with NERC requirements PSE developed a new TVMP, and it was up to us to implement it. *Reduction in Maintenance cycles would almost certainly reduce transmission outages due to vegetation growth, but the amount of uncertainty was still not acceptable. Many of the native trees can put on >10 of growth in a single growing season. Standards governing specific compatible vegetation were implemented and relayed to the landowners. We developed an itemized list of compatible vegetation to provide to customers for guidance on what was now allowed in the transmission corridors.
When PSE developed the new TVMP, the standards affected the wire zone as well as the border zones.**Putting our plan into action was a difficult task at times due to customer and jurisdiction conflicts. When our negotiations as a contractor reached an impasse, PSE had a refusal process in place to temporarily satisfy the plan and allow time for further negotiations directly with them. Story of the first challenging situationwhen the overwhelming reality set in. The target was an apple tree that was planted for her by her deceased husband many years prior. The tree was directly beneath the transmission lines (in the wire zone) and exceeded the new height/species limitations. It was difficult to approach customers such as this who had vegetation of sentimental value, and ask for their approval to remove it due to the new regulations when just trimming it sufficed in previous years. And yet, I found that for the most part, they were still willing to be cooperative in spite of their loss. *The majority of land owners were agreeable and amicable for the most part. Occasionally, there were conflicts due to the sensitive nature of the individual situations. The conflicts were not limited to private owners, as municipalities have major investments in landscaping roadways, parks and community properties, as well as meeting ecological guidelines. In order to meet the new requirements, the refusal process eventually led to easement rights enforcement. But PSE did this in such a way as to maintain good relationships with the customers by providing compensation and compromising whenever it was reasonably within the standards. (Border Zone gray area)*Although listing every species that falls within a 15 mature growth height is virtually impossible, the extensively comprised list of 230kV- compatible vegetation provides numerous choices for the landowner. It has a wide variety of vegetation that is categorized to suit the tastes and criteria of each individual, such as flowering, evergreen, natives, and fall/winter interest. We provided further choices for municipalities whose main objectives were street trees or vegetation for publicly used areas. The most commonly desired plantings were specific to the types of vegetation that would re-establish lost privacy screens. In some cases, we used taller growing species for those who had large trees blocking the view of the power lines themselves. We just planted them well outside of the corridor when there was enough space to do so, and strategically placed them so that they would grow to block the view of the lines again.**In order to provide fair negotiations, occasionally re-planting became necessary in some locations in which established and costly landscapes required removals. This is on a golf course in E WA. The lower left photo is the same view as the one on the right. We removed the Cottonwood grove, Willow, and evergreens, and re-planted the area with compatible shrubs and trees that were designed for the climate and location. We worked closely with the golf course owners to determine their new landscape design.The challenges of controlling fast-growing native trees around relatively small transmission structures made it clear that the types of vegetation occupying PSE transmission corridors needed significant attention. Diminishing native vegetation, especially in sensitive areas, can have a drastic impact on the habitats of its surroundings. We have a mitigation specialist who works with county jurisdictions to restore vegetation with compatible species to minimize the effects of our work in these locations. Additionally, we adhere to the terrain exemption in the new regulation standards which allows for certain types of ordinarily incompatible vegetation to remain in ravines or areas where the line height can be taken into consideration. Typically, this is determined by the mature height of the vegetation in relation to the height of the wires. If at maturity the distance is greater than 30 feet from the lines, the vegetation will not be affected. *We represent PSE in other aspects in addition to our normal maintenance responsibilities. We work closely with them to present a unified working relationship and team value.*