FERC hosted a technical conference on transmission vegetation management practices on Oct. 26. The utility vegetation management industry was represented by Derek Vannice, executive director of the Utility Arborist Association; David Schleicher, VP Transmission, PPL Electric Utilities; and Randy Miller, director Vegetation Management, PacifiCorp. David Morrell, utility environmental analyst, NY State Department of Public Service, presented the state regulator perspective. Also represented were NERC and consumer tree protection groups.

The technical conference's purpose was to discuss the range of current VM programs and practices. FERC has received some public pushback to FAC-003-01, or to how it is being interpreted by utilities. However, while it is expected that there would be a public reaction to the broad scale reclamation of the wire zone triggered by FAC-003, it is difficult to judge whether FERC is obtaining an accurate picture of the extent of discontent. The consumer tree protection groups are either failing to make clear distinctions about where FAC-003 applies or are being disingenuous by pointing the finger at FAC-003.

For example, the representative for the Greenburgh Environmental Forum failed to mention that Con Ed had changed its pruning standards in 2007 after being savaged by Westchester residents who were angered by a three storm-caused multi-day outage. Is landowner ire arising from FAC-003, which is applicable to less than 500 miles of Con Ed’s 36,000 miles of overhead system, or is it a reaction to the more aggressive VM program adopted in 2007?

Randy Miller provided a passionate, clear and compelling argument for the use of sustainable VM practices. He contended that they are achievable only through the application of integrated VM principles.

The video proceedings of the conference are available.