The high cost of a single tree
Following the Northeast Blackout, the electricity utility industry and regulators responded with a new industry standard for managing trees and other plants within transmission rights of way. The Vegetation Management Reliability Standard, known as FAC-003, requires transmission owners to establish and maintain enough clearance between trees and transmission lines to prevent flashovers that could cause power outages.
This standard imposes stiff fines for violations.
Millions in fines have been assessed so far. Fines can be assessed for allowing even a single tree to get too close to power lines.
TVA received a $175,000 fine when an interruption was caused by vegetation. A willow tree had grown almost 30 feet in the three years since we last maintained the right of way. When it grew within 10 feet of a 500,000-volt line in Alabama, the line flashed over and triggered an outage. In addition to the fine, program improvements are required to ensure it does not happen again. TVA spent about $5 million initially and will spend an additional $2.5 million each year on these enhancements.
Incidents like these drive up the cost of power for everyone.
More about how TVA manages vegetation for safe, reliable power