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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.


Flashover on a transmission line from TVA's Bull Run fossil plant near Clinton, Tenn.

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 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. Fines and significant mitigation costs like these drive up the cost of power for everyone.




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