Utility tree workload expands by logistic progression. Without an understanding of this principle and modeling based on quantitative measures, deferring tree pruning and vegetation management result in much higher future costs. For more detail read the article VM Concepts and Principles.

Is your PUC demanding improved reliability but unwilling to approve the required funds for line clearance work? Is new management looking at reducing line clearance spending? These decisions will probably appear shrewd in the short term. By the time the negative consequences appear, which they must, who will connect the effect with the decision? And who will be held accountable?

What if you could predict the impact of such constraints on future budget requirements and tree-caused outages?  Now you can and the savings are astounding.  See the examples: Budget ImpactOutage Impact.  

The Budget Impact example shows returning outages to the level they were before ten years of underfunding will cost 42% more. Underfunding did not save money. Rather it resulted in an additional net present value cost equivalent to 42% of 10 years of proper funding based on the true annual requirements.

What is the cost of underfunding at your utility? It will likely be considerably higher than the example provided for two reasons:

  1. The example is based on growth rates at a Canadian utility that only has a four month growing season.

  2. The example assumes under-funding of only 10%. That amounts to a slight error. When VM budgets are cut, they tend to be progressively cut over a period of years, often in 10% to 15% increments. Underfunding is more likely to be in the range of 30% to 50% of the biologically driven requirements and endure for five to seven years.

The cycle of reactively increasing VM budgets in response to rapidly expanding tree-related outages and then markedly reducing those budgets as tree-related outages drop, is tremendously inefficient.

If a ten year history of tree-related outages, is not relatively level, the budget did not match the biologically driven requirements.

Perhaps funding has increased over the last several years and outages are on a downward trend. Does that mean all is well? How will you stabilize tree-related outages at this lower level? What is the likelihood that funding will be cut and a new up phase in the roller coaster record of outages is begun? Take out insurance in the form of unique information… information that is easy to understand even for people with no training regarding trees.

Once you identify and quantify the drivers of vegetation management work, the picture will become clear, including the consequences of underfunding. The approach produces information so solid it has withstood the rigors of rate cases, intervener challenges and convinced regulators to approve substantial increases in VM funding.

Call Ecosync to assess and model your underfunding impacts.

Note the modeling of effects, unlike other earlier efforts are not restricted to tree pruning but apply to the whole line clearance/vegetation management program.