Transmission & Distribution Channels

Category Archives: Vegetation Management

Vegetation Management

ANALYZING THE VEGETATION PROBLEM: Getting the Most Out of Collected Data Through Advanced Analytics

As a utility, vegetation management is of the utmost importance – for ensuring transmission and distribution reliability and complying with complex North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) regulations for minimum vegetation clearance distance and facility ratings. Utilities now rely on advanced remote sensing technologies to survey transmission infrastructure, then use the data collected to show compliance.


While utilities may rely on basic analytical tools to deliver the required NERC compliance data, they may not take full advantage of the valuable data being collected. In this article, we’ll explain
how utilities can go beyond basic descriptive analytics, using both prescriptive and predictive analytics to transform massive data sets into real-time, actionable information critical to ensuring reliability across the electric grid. And, we’ll share examples of how utilities are leveraging advanced analytics to drive greater efficiency and cost savings across their organization.



Utility vegetation management practitioners rely on a wealth of information to both optimize and streamline decision making related to budgetary needs, schedule prioritization and risk management. In our previous article, “Advanced Survey Technologies Deliver Clear View of Geologic Hazards” (ET issue Third Quarter 2016 Volume 29, No.3), we described the various technologies – such as multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal imaging as well as LiDAR – used for remote data sensing and shared how they are leveraged in applications to assess tree health, forest inventory, soil composition analysis and asset inventory.


Raw data collected using these technologies is prohibitively large regardless of the source. A single LiDAR collection covering a 35- mile transmission circuit can result in files exceeding 100 gigabytes. Add in corresponding imagery and the data size easily doubles or triples. This data alone – or combined with other sources – often leads to a perceived “data overload,” leaving utilities overwhelmed and unsure how the information can be used in the most effective manner. Remotely sensed data is a powerful information source that requires specialized skills and techniques to exploit its inherent advantages. Ultimately, utilities will employ advanced analytics solutions to leverage any quantity or type of remote sensing data – as well as data that comes from other sources – to extract the specific business intelligence they require.


Vegetation Management

Advanced Survey Technologies Deliver Clear View of Geologic Hazards

Electric utilities commonly use trained foresters, traversing thousands of miles, to manually identify vegetation or other geographic hazards posing risks to transmission infrastructure. For one utility in the Western United States, the challenging terrain and accuracy limitations of laser range finders used to visually identify at-risk trees resulted in 1,424 trees assessed as requiring maintenance, potentially costing $200,000.

Months later, surveying the same assets using high-resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) on fixed wing aircraft, the utility determined only 35 trees needed management, including 17 trees not originally identified in the forester’s survey. Ultimately the use of new technology saved the utility more than $150,000 in maintenance fees.

LiDAR and other improvements in geological hazard mapping are proven to reduce maintenance costs, minimize outage risks, improve safety of field workers and deliver greater shareholder value.
  Read more

Vegetation Management

Scheduling Vegetation Maintenance Activities

How to adopt best practices to improve reliability and reduce costs

BY PHILIP CHARLTON, Utility Arborist Association

Electric utilities have always faced the challenge of determining the optimum frequency of maintenance operations for the control of trees and brush growing near the electric system. Utilities must balance the cost of maintenance with the cost and impact of avoiding or deferring action. Read more

Vegetation Management

Vegetation Management on Transmission Lines

Using LiDAR technologies to enhance operations

BY PHILIP CHARLTON, Utility Arborist Association

In March 2014, utility vegetation managers from throughout North America gathered in Fort Worth, Texas to share their experience with the use of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) remote sensing technologies in the management of vegetation growing in and around their utility infrastructure. The managers that participated had over 700 years of combined experience in the electric utility industry. Read more

Visit Us