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Reliability Vs. Vegetation

By Phill Feltham

Florida Power & Light takes steps to keep lights on

Managing vegetation (that is, trees, bushes and other neighboring plants) around power lines is a top priority for electric utilities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), unmanaged vegetation can cause electricity outages, wildfires, soil erosion, and water quality issues. These unfortunate incidents can damage the power grid, resulting in serious consequences such as reliability, environmental, and national security problems.

The EPA points out how managed vegetation around rights-of-way (ROW) corridors can affect the nearby area by “causing wildfires, fragmenting wildlife habitat, and introducing invasive and exotic species”. Bottom line: properly maintaining vegetation around transmission lines and supporting facilities is critical to the reliable operation of electric power.

Electricity Today Magazine spoke with Jose Medina, manager of vegetation management for Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) to (1) gain insight on how the utility manages its vegetation, (2) identify best practices and, (3) obtain valuable information on how utilities can improve operations and policies on their vegetation management plan.

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