By - Jon Brown

Vegetation Management: Enhancing System Reliability and Environmental Stewardship
April 16-17, 2018 | Chicago, IL

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Many items impact the reliability of a utility system and vegetation is typically one of the largest.  Our industry often discusses best management practices, new technologies and tools available to improve our vegetation management programs, but we rarely are able to get together in the same room to discuss solutions.  This program is going to focus on sharing solutions that have worked.

The goal of this course is to look at how specific challenges impact reliability and how utilities can reduce that impact.  The course will begin by looking at the impact of major events such as storms, weather and pest epidemics.  How do the leading utilities in the industry prepare for these events and manage them to reduce the overall impact to the system? In addition to looking at how major events impact reliability, this course will also spend time looking at the role of utilities in environmental stewardship along the ROWs.  

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss storm response during major events
  • Demonstrate how trees react and respond to storm events
  • Explain techniques to manage ROWs in a high fire risk zone
  • Utilize weather patterns and technology to prepare for storm events
  • Explain the value of environmental stewardship in the ROW
  • Examine a few case studies of environmental projects in the ROW
  • Discuss outage investigations and the relevant metrics
  • Explain how utilizing outage data can improve system reliability
  • Identify reliability risk posed by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
  • Discuss EAB mitigation strategies



EUCI has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).  In obtaining this accreditation, EUCI has demonstrated that it  complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard which is recognized internationally as a standard of good practice. As a result of their Authorized Provider status, EUCI is authorized to offer IACET CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 1.0 CEUs for this event.


Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must sign in/out each day, be in attendance for the entirety of the course

Instructional Methods

Case Studies
Power Point presentations


Monday, April 16, 2018

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. :: Registration and Continental

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. :: Introduction & Safety Message  

9:15 – 10:15 a.m. :: Enhanced Reliability Trimming and Fire Risk Reduction programs

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m. :: Storm Response

This talk will discuss the process of contractors assisting utilities during a major storm response.  It will discuss lessons learned, best management practices and teamwork.  This is important from the initial mobilization through complete restoration.

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Effects of Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation (EAB) on the Structure and Material Properties of Ash Trees

Discuss the impacts EAB has on the structural integrity of ash trees as they die from the infestation.  What additional risk does this pose to the reliability of the electric service and the safety of the tree workers.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. :: Biomechanics of How Trees Dismantle

The Davey Tree Expert Company has long sponsored a “Biomechanics” week where scientists from around the country look at trees and how forces impact them.  This talk will discuss how trees fall apart during the aging process and how wind and other forces impact the process of dismantling.  How trees fall apart is critical in how utility managers think about risk and reliability.

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. :: Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation

EAB is an enormous threat to the reliability of utility companies throughout the United States.  It first impacted utilities in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio with virtually no warning.  This talk will discuss what some utilities have done to proactively plan for this pest and what some of the recommendations are based on what stage of infestation your region is in.

2:45 – 3:15 p.m. :: Networking

3:15 – 4:00 p.m. :: Case Study: Duke Energy’s Storm Restoration Efforts in Puerto Rico

Duke Energy has sent crews over to assist with restoration efforts in Puerto Rico.  All utilities have lent crews to assist neighboring utilities or even utilities from different regions during catastrophic events.  Sending crews to assist in Puerto Rico offered a unique set of challenges and opportunities.  This talk will discuss this process and the lessons learned during the restoration efforts.

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Wrap Up & Adjourn

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

9:00  – 9:15 a.m. :: Introduction to Day 2 & Safety Message

9:15 – 10:00 a.m. :: Case Study: Commonwealth Edison’s Vegetation Outage Investigations

Get an inside look into how ComEd manages vegetation outage investigations. Discuss their criteria for determining which outages to investigate and what information is collected during the investigation.  This presentation will also summarize the outcome of the investigations and how that was applied to improve customer reliability.  

10:00 – 10:45 a.m. :: Integrated Approach for Managing ROWs to Maintain Environmental Compliance

In a time of heightened environmental awareness, government oversight and community activism, ROW managers are facing an ever-increasing burden of providing reliable electric and gas service across a versatile environment.  Short and long-term planning is crucial to ensure ROW management plans are in compliance with the growing list of environmental requirements.  This session will discuss integrated solutions to managing ROWs in a holistic approach that combines environmental awareness and stewardship, community engagement, IVM and technological tools.

10:45 – 11:00 a.m. :: Networking Break

11:00 – 11:45 a.m. :: Gas Pipeline Vegetation and Encroachment Assessment

This talk will discuss a project that looked at 2,800 miles of gas lines across 8 states.  Aerial imagery was utilized to perform an initial desktop reconnaissance which was later field verified.  The reports, maps and digital spatial data will be used to determine maintenance and budget requirements.  

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. :: Open Forum Discussion and Program Wrap Up


Shannon Peters, Senior Program Manager, ComEd

Shannon Peters is a Senior Program Manager in the Vegetation Management Department at ComEd, an electric utility that serves most of northern Illinois.  In her current role, Shannon is responsible for managing high priority special projects for the distribution side of the company, particularly those with poor power reliability performance due to vegetation concerns.  Shannon has a B.S. in Geography and Geographic Information Systems and is currently working towards obtaining a Masters in Organizational Management.  She has worked in various departments throughout ComEd over the past 7 years, including Mapping and Distribution Project Management prior to her role in Veg.

Jimmy Guzman, Emergency Preparedness Manager, Duke Energy

Roy Van Houten, Director, Wetland Studies & Solutions Inc.

Roy Van Houten, PWS, CE, CPESC is the Director of environmental compliance for Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.  With over 16 years of experience assisting a wide array of clients in the utility, residential, commercial and transportation sectors, he has an excellent understanding of what processes need to be in place to insure projects do not incur delays or costly fines due to non-compliance issues with local, state and federal environmental regulations.  Roy has a Bachelor of Technology degree in Wildlife Management from State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology.  Roy is a professional wetland scientist, past president of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association, board member of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and has numerous certifications in erosion and sediment control.

Sara Dreiser, Project Manager, Davey Resource Group

Sara Dreiser is the Upper Midwest Project Manager for Davey Resource Group. Sara has been with the Davey Resource Group since November 2012. Sara began as a distribution field utility forester in Northern Illinois, and has hands on experience work planning, performing quality control audits, and interacting with homeowners. Sara moved into the Quality Assurance Field Supervisor role before taking on her current position. Before coming to Davey Sara worked as a Research Assistant in Urban Forestry at The Morton Arboretum. Sara has presented as a guest instructor at the Davey Institute of Tree Science, and has attended many Davey trainings such as Safety Leadership, Personal Excellence, and Growing Leaders. Sara is an ISA Certified Arborist and has a Biology and Environmental Science Degree from Knox College.

Jim Neeser, Group Business Developer, Davey Resource

Jim Neeser is a Business Developer for the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions with DRG. Jim brings 17 years of experience in arboriculture and has recently emerged as a leader in the utility arboriculture and vegetation management industry. He is constantly working with utility companies to provide innovative solutions and has done significant amounts of work with innovative tools. Jim has been on the UAA Training Committee since 2010 and is currently the treasurer and Champion of the finance committee. He has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry with an emphasis on Hydrology and Soils from the University of Minnesota and is an ISA Certified Arborist with the Utility Specialist endorsement. Jim is also a frequent speaker at industry events across the country, including the international show in Australia.

Anand Persad, Manager of Plant Sciences, The Davey Institute

Dr. Persad pursued postdoctoral studies in 2001 -2003 at the University of Florida, Gainesville-  in Invasive Species, Insect Molecular Genetics, Hi-Fidelity PCR. He has a PhD from the University of the West Indies in Entomology. Dr. Persad leads a team of industry focused educators and researchers at the Davey Institute, Kent, OH as Manager of Plant Sciences.  His current activities include: Chair of the Sustainability Working Group (SWG) of the Davey Institute; Arboriculture and Improving Tree Care Technology; Tree Biology, Structure and Biomechanics; Restoration of Urban Landscapes; Invasive Species Research; Ecology and Planning in Urban Landscapes Globally; Vertebrate and Invertebrate Interactions with Community Green Spaces. He is an Adjunct Professor at Kent State University Kent, Ohio: Department of Biology 2012- current and contributes regularly as a member of the Horticultural Advisory board. He has been an avid researcher and educator in the field of arboriculture within the Davey Tree Expert Company for about 11+ years and have been an invited speaker to numerous ISA –chapter meetings, the ISA national meetings, ISA-Bio-Mechanics Weeks and the Utility Arborists Association meetings along with several related international events. He is the author of several peer-reviewed manuscripts and is instrumental in transferring technology to the broad tree and turf care industry groups through collaborative research and joint teaching with several national and international agencies.

Gabriel Hack, Project Developer, Davey Resource Group

Gabriel Hack is a project developer for DRG’s Pacific Region with a focus on the ongoing and successful partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company. He is responsible for developing, improving, and expanding new and existing relationships to better facilitate UVM success and meet the growing needs of the industry. Gabe leverages his 10 years of experience and a network of nearly 200 professional foresters and program managers to provide vegetation management solutions throughout California. Gabe joined Davey Resource Group in 2009 as a Consulting Utility Forester in PG&E’s Central Coast division, and has a wide breadth of industry experience holding such elevated posts as Customer Care Specialist, Enhanced Reliability forester and supervisor, and as an Estimating Arborist for electrical construction projects. He also has many years of experience in storm restoration operations as a Vegetation Resource Coordinator and Emergency Standby/Assessment forester. He most recently served as Project Coordinator of the North Bay division before being elevated to his current role. Gabe is an ISA-certified arborist and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Sciences from the University of California at Santa Cruz.


Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago
163 E Walton Pl
Chicago, IL 60611

To reserve your room, please call 1-312-751-8100
Please indicate that you are with the EUCI group to receive the group rate.

Click here to book online

Room Rate:

The room rate is $139.00 single or double plus applicable taxes.

Room Block Dates:

A room block has been reserved for the nights of April 15 – 16, 2018.

Rate Available Until:

Make your reservations prior to March 19, 2018. There are a limited number of rooms available at the conference rate. Please make your reservations early.


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