The award comes from the National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters. PPL Electric Utilities met the five requirements for being a Tree Line USA utility:
- Using industry best practices for quality tree care.
- Training workers annually in tree care practices.
- Participating in and sponsoring tree planting and public education.
- Offering a tree-based energy conservation program.
- Participating in Arbor Day celebrations.
The Tree Line USA program promotes the dual goals of reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees.
"Trees are an important part of our urban landscape from an environmental and economic standpoint. Trees help not only clean the air and water sources, but also the shade they provide helps reduce peak energy usage and conserve energy," said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Utility providers like PPL (Electric Utilities) are setting a good example about the importance of taking care of a valuable community resource like trees."
Phil Walnock, manager of vegetation management for PPL Electric Utilities, said, "Our vegetation management approach is critical to providing safe, reliable electric service. Our program is very holistic and goes beyond proper pruning by qualified contractors. An equally important part of our efforts involves educating customers about smart planting around power lines for the long-term health of the tree."
As a Tree Line USA utility, PPL Electric Utilities uses partnerships to promote proper tree care and planting. The company joins with the American Chestnut Foundation and the Lehighton Shade Tree Commission in Arbor Day activities, and works with Audubon Pennsylvania to promote the suitable species of vegetation on power line rights of way that can benefit bird habitat.
Trees are one of the most common causes of power outages. At a cost of more than $30 million, PPL Electric Utilities maintains vegetation each year along nearly 8,000 miles of distribution and transmission power lines for safety and electric reliability. In 2002, PPL Electric Utilities adopted common tree-pruning standards -- supported by the Arbor Day Foundation -- across its 29-county service area. The company uses directional pruning techniques on its distribution lines and smaller transmission lines that remove only those branches growing toward power lines.