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Educational Sessions

Utility Arborist Association (UAA)

Utilizing Data- Driven Methodologies to Manage UVM Programs
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
8:30 AM — 11:00 AM
Osceola Ballroom B
A, U, M, Bm
90 Minutes of presentations by John Goodfellow, Geoffrey Kempter, J.M. Sparkman, Will Porter, followed by a 45 minute presentation from Andrea Nichols.

Presenter Information

  • Final Report: Development of a Business Case for Scheduling Utility Vegetation Management on a Preventive vs. Corrective Maintenance Basis UARF-01
    • John W Goodfellow
      John Goodfellow has over 30 years’ experience in the electric and gas utility industries; having held positions of increasing responsibility for vegetation management, operations, maintenance, and engineering at three large investor owned electric & gas utilities. He has been the principle researcher on several research and development projects focusing on the modes and causes of trees cause power interruptions. 

    The Utility Arborist Association (UAA)  established the need to gain better understanding of how best to determine optimum vegetation maintenance cycle periods and the tradeoffs between the relative costs of preventive vs. corrective maintenance as its top research priority.  The TREE Fund’s Utility Arboriculture Research Fund funded a project which addresses this question.  The project was funded in two stages.  The presentation being proposed will be a final report of findings from both phases of this project.   

    A quantitative assessment model was developed in the first phase of the investigation, and findings reported at UAA/ISA Annual Conference in Toronto in 2013.  This initial phase of the investigation laid the foundation for a proof of concept assessment and demonstration. 

    Work on the second phase of the project is currently underway and will be completed in Q2 2015.  This second phase of the project is intended to validate the algorithms that were developed in Phase I.  Initial testing is being done using a logical strawman surrogate intended to represent a hybrid virtual vegetation management program.  The final step will be to validate the model by completing a pilot demonstration using data available from a participating utility vegetation management program.   

  • Should I Be On Cycle?
    • Geoffrey Kempter
      Geoff Kempter is Manager of Technical Services for Asplundh. He is a member of the ANSI A300 Tree Care Standards Committee, and in the past has been a member of the ISA Board of Directors and the ISA Certification Board, where he served as Chair. His is currently co-authoring the Utility Arborist Study Guide for ISA, and is author of the ISA Utility Pruning BMP, and many more articles and papers. Geoff is an ISA TRAQ instructor, and a 1981 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources. 
    For most of us, being “on cycle” has always been the ideal: if utility vegetation management program is on cycle, the budget and workforce is more stable, customers know what to expect, tree problems are reduced, and everyone is happier.  But we also know that line priority varies according to voltage, construction, fusing, customers served and other factors. Additionally, tree growth rates vary, droughts and excess rainfall affect growth and mortality from year to year, storm frequency and intensity vary, EAB and other insects and diseases are ravaging huge tracts of forest, and budgets can be increased or cut for many reasons other than the condition of the trees. Given all of these variables, can a defined cycle be systematically applied at all, or is another approach warranted?  This presentation explores how we must adapt our programs to real world variables, and demonstrates the importance of communicating the benefits of comprehensive vegetation management to decision makers.  
  • Mega Data and Predictive Modeling in the Effective Application of Utility Vegetation Management Resources
    • J. M. Sparkman
          Mr. J.M. Sparkman is the Manager of the Consulting Services Group at Environmental Consultants, Inc. (ECI). Mr. Sparkman directs an array of distribution and transmission consulting services at ECI designed to assist electric cooperatives, municipals, and investor-owned utilities with improving their vegetation management programs. He holds a B.S. in Forestry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His experience includes over 25 years of utility vegetation management forestry including: contract and project management, budgeting, storm logistics, and local VM operations for the largest utility in the state of Florida. 

    There has been an evolution from pure cycle-based Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) programs toward more data intensive management strategies. An understanding of what global data is available and how it can be used to maximize program efficiencies however, is still unclear. From geospatial, weather, fire risk, and socio-economic data to utility-specific facility design, outage, and customer data, a wide variety of data inputs are available today that are often untapped resources in the implementation of UVM program strategies. This “mega data” challenges the industry to broaden our understanding of the relationships between trees and wires and under what conditions trees are likely to cause outages.

    This presentation focuses on how this mega data may be used to model outage risk and how UVM programs may effectively incorporate this knowledge in the application of resources to help maximize program benefits including cost savings, reliability contributions, wildfire prevention, and public/worker safety.
  • Is Reliability-Centered Vegetation Management a Standard of Care?
    • William Porter
      William Porter, Director of Consulting at CN Utility Consulting (CNUC), is the principal project manager for benchmarking and research. Porter graduated from the University of Illinois and is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist and ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist. With more than 21 years of experience in the utility vegetation management (UVM) industry, Porter has direct knowledge of all aspects of UVM work. Since joining CNUC in 2008, he has directed many program and compliance reviews and special projects and has performed analysis on a wide range of UVM metrics. Porter was the principal author of the 2010 CN Utility Consulting Utility Vegetation Management Benchmark and Industry Intelligence, as well as the subsequent versions in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Porter has been published in the Utility Arborist Newsline, Transmission & Distribution World and the Environmental Concerns of Rights-of-Way -10th International Symposium Publication. He presents often on UVM benchmarking, LIDAR projects and other industry topics in the U.S. and abroad. Most recently, he has presented on ways to transform UVM through his idea of “Treetilization.” Porter has also completed, published and presented on a research project for the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI) on Data Analytics and Modeling Tools Applied to UVM Programs. Porter continuously monitors and evaluates legal and regulatory changes, as well as issues and trends related to UVM around the world. He also provides support to legal cases for CNUC, tracks legal cases involving UVM in the US, and has participated in several legal cases as a witness. Porter has a unique understanding of UVM programs, best practices, regulatory issues and research intersections. 

    In recent years, electric utility regulators, utility companies and vegetation management departments have become engaged in an electric reliability-focused approach to utility vegetation management (UVM). Many states have reliability targets that must be met and most utility companies now report their reliability achievements annually. UVM departments, which have long struggled with sufficient funds to manage system workloads, have adopted the reliability-centered approach as a way to manage costs, measure program efficacy and improvements and assert program effectiveness to upper management, the regulators and the public. This presentation will identify the various reliability regulations, reporting requirements and metrics in use in North America today. The presenter will analyze the impact of these initiatives on vegetation management programs and draw conclusions on whether the current understanding of reliability is an appropriate standard of care for utility vegetation management. The following topics will be covered in this discussion:

    1.     A review of reliability-focused regulations in the US and Canada

    2.     What are the utility company responses to reliability regulations?

    3.     A characterization of reliability-centered vegetation management (RCVM)

    4.     What are the reliability-centered maintenance impacts on UVM programs short-term and long-term?

    5.     A discussion on whether RCVM meets specific objectives such as environmental optimization, safety and customer satisfaction

    6.     Recommendations for enhancing the reliability-centered maintenance approach to UVM

    This presentation will answer the question of whether UVM programs sufficiently satisfy objectives that are not the primary targets of RCVM.

  • Success Stories: Utilities, Communities, and the "New Culture"
    • Andrea Nichols
      Andrea Nichols is an ISA certified arborist/utility specialist with ArborMetrics Solutions. Contracted with Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) for the past 4 years, Ms. Nichols has enjoyed the incredible variety that comes with working in the utility industry. She holds a degree from Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame (Indiana) and completed post-graduate studies in Environmental and Cultural Heritage Management at University College Dublin (Ireland). While hired as a work planner, her duties have grown to include community outreach, education, and special projects coordination. She also serves on the board of the Indiana Urban Forest Council. Plans for the next year include contributing to a major research project, increasing her activities as a #RAKtivist, and continuing to care for the Urban Forest.

      ArborMetrics Solutions, Plymouth, IN, United States

    This presentation sets forth to showcase the "New Integrated Vegetation Management" system currently being used by Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). NIPSCO is one of two utilities in the nation that has successfully participated in the Tree Line USA program every year since the start of the program. Participation in the Tree Line USA program has been a cornerstone of our operations. In addition to Tree Line, we've found that community activism/involvement has played a crucial role in our activities.

    Most IVM Plans are formed around four key elements: Site Specific Assessment, Controls, Evaluation, and Maintenance. Standard Controls used by managers include Chemical, Biological, Mechanical and Manual processes. NIPSCO and ArborMetrics Solutions (AMS) have worked together to add a 5th Control---Cultural. By creating a culture of communication and relationship building with the communities we work in, NIPSCO has increased the effectiveness of their Vegetation Management program. This presentation will share strategies, success stories, and project plans to help utilities strengthen their work programs, surrounding communities, and the Urban Forest.