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PEC moves up vegetation mapping due to ice storm damage

Pedernales Electric Cooperative tree trimmer

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.  

Cooperative members can request tree care service online or by calling 888-554-4732 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

1 thought on “PEC moves up vegetation mapping due to ice storm damage

  1. How many wake up calls does the PEC require to be out front of disasters? Why are they continuing to “absorb” these multimillion dollar disasters? We have been paying for the PEC incompetence now since winter storm Uri and now we are told they are just now getting around to trimming trees that potentially could be bringing down power and communication lines? Are we the rate payers going to be asked yet again to cover poor planning?

    Why didn’t the trimming of trees take place last year? Why did it take yet another kick in the tail to get the PEC damage control/blame gamers to release their public relations reaction? Why not be PROactive instead of REactive?

    Those attachments the PEC is poised to blame for future downed lines are separated by an agreed upon space nationwide. All attachments are in the telecom space which is below the electrical space on the pole. If an untrimmed tree is loaded with ice, there is a nearly 100% chance that an ice covered branch is on top of the telecom space and not between the power and telecom space. Telecom companies are being charged a pretty penny to rent that space on the pole. Before the District 5 Director starts holding out his hand for $$$$ he might want to read the PEC pole attachment contract as the distance below the PEC lines to the telecom lines is very small. It is very doubtful that an ice covered limb is going to miraculously bring down lines or poles due to the placement of the telecom (fiber optic cables) inches below the power lines.

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