Marble Falls, Burnet, Kingsland, Llano, Spicewood, Horseshoe Bay, and ALL of the Highland Lakes
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Pedernales Electric Cooperative tree trimmers cut back vegetation 10 feet from utility lines as per regulations. Courtesy photo
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative plans to conduct its annual vegetation mapping a full season earlier in 2023 to fully assess the damage to trees and bushes from Winter Storm Mara, which struck Central Texas from Jan. 31-Feb. 2.
Using new technology implemented after Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, the cooperative will map vegetation system-wide with aerial and satellite imagery developed by IBM in April rather than in the fall, Chief Operating Officer Eddie Dauterive told the PEC Board of Directors at its regular meeting on Feb. 17.
“That way, we can get a before-and-after comparison,” Dauterive said.
PEC also will look at managing vegetation around attachments on PEC poles, most of which are put there by communications companies.
“Vegetation management in the communications area is the responsibility of those who have attached it,” Dauterive said. “They are required to manage that.”
District 5 Director James Oakley of Burnet County asked about enforcement of PEC standards that the companies are required to follow.
“If we have damage due to that shortcoming, then we might look at recovering recovery costs from those entities,” he said.
CEO Julie Parsley assured Oakley that pole attachment issues are one of several major after-action items on PEC management’s storm recovery list.
The new Geiger-mode LiDAR system adopted in 2021 uses planes and satellites for more accurate vegetation mapping. PEC is one of only a few utilities in North America to move from a traditional cycle-based and time-sensitive vegetation maintenance program to 100 percent condition-based management, according to an article on the T&D World website.
“It identifies our feeders and lines that require clearing,” Dauterive said. “It’s a very targeted approach to clearing our lines. We could never get this targeted with the type of program we had before. It’s a very effective program.”
PEC covers more than 19,000 miles of overhead electrical lines.