September 27, 2016

Clearing the Way For Electric Reliability

Wolverine Power Cooperative is targeting 315 miles for right-of-way danger tree removals and trimming in 2012 on the co-op’s transmission system and another 230 miles for herbicide application on lines that were re-cleared in 2010 and 2011.

Re-clearing work is complete in the Baldwin, Weidman and Grawn areas and is planned for line sections near Copemish, Kalkaska, Hersey, Marion and Newaygo. Herbicide application is scheduled from mid-June through September on sections of the system near Boyne City, Elmira, Alba, Cheboygan, Tower, Atlanta, LeRoy, Scottville, Hersey, Altona and Vestaburg.

Wolverine has implemented a five-year cycle for re-clearing its 1,600-mile system. Brush that compromises access along the right-of-way corridor is cut or mowed and hazard trees that could fall into the power lines are cut down. One or two years after re-clearing, herbicide is hand-applied to control the regrowth of trees and certain woody shrubs.

“We follow the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s recommended standards for maintaining our rights-of-way,” says Joe Hughes, land management supervisor. “We are also a certified member of the Energy for Wildlife program sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, which promotes a balanced vegetation management practice with wildlife habitat benefits.”

The Federation helps Wolverine ensure safe and reliable delivery of electricity to its member distribution cooperatives and improve wildlife food, nesting and cover habitats. By controlling the trees and invasive woody shrubs with a selective herbicide treatment, grasses dominate the corridor, which in turn helps minimize tree seedling regrowth and reduce the need for future work to re-clear the corridor.

Wolverine works with two contractors to maintain the vegetation on its rights-of-way. Crews from Trees, Inc., perform the tree and brush cutting, and Owen Tree Service applies the herbicide.

Wolverine has also begun to trim overhanging tree canopies on the edges of some right-of-way corridors. While the goal of routine re-clearing is to prevent trees from falling or growing into the power lines, side tree-trimming increases the horizontal tree clearance to the wires. The work is being done on lines that were rebuilt or are planned for rebuilding to prevent damage from tree contacts to upgraded sections of the system.

“We are trimming tree limbs that could come in contact with our lines during high winds or heavy snow,” Hughes explains. “In some forested areas, the tree crowns were only 15 feet from the wires, but the tree trunks were outside the cleared corridor.

Wolverine notifies landowners who have vegetation management work scheduled in their areas. Letters are mailed two to four weeks before work begins. Co-op members with questions may contact Wolverine’s land management department at 231-775-5700.