On October 18, 2019, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issued a Record of Decision for its proposal to programmatically address vegetation management with the TVA power system’s transmission line right-of-ways (“ROW”).
TVA has decided to implement Alternative C, as described in the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), and adopt a condition-based control strategy for vegetation management, coupled with an initial clearing off of all woody vegetation in the ROW buffer zones. The full extent of the actively managed ROW would then be maintained to a meadow-like end-state. This decision supports TVA’s goal to provide the best balance in enhancing system reliability and safety, minimization of environmental impacts, and striving for cost effectiveness.
TVA, however, is currently subject to a court injunction issued July 31, 2017 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in the lawsuit, Sherwood v. TVA, No. 3–12–cv–156, which requires ‘‘TVA [to] maintain buffer zones on the edges of its ROW in a manner as described in its 1997 and 2008 Line Maintenance Manuals’’ until TVA prepares and publishes a thorough Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act analyzing TVA’s ROW vegetation management program. Thus, TVA has stopped removing woody vegetation except for trees that are an immediate hazard to the reliability of the transmission system and/or safety of the public. Until the injunction has been lifted by the court, TVA will continue to operate according to the injunction.
TVA and the cooperating agencies prepared this final PEIS to document the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with system-wide vegetation management practices along its ROW. The purpose of the PEIS was to enable TVA to establish a system-wide strategy for managing the transmission line ROWs consistent with applicable laws, orders, standards, practices and guidance while providing reliable energy and protecting environmental resources. TVA issued a PEIS for this project on August 30, 2019.
TVA is responsible for maintaining a network of more than 16,000 miles of electric transmission lines and about 500 power stations. This electric transmission system operates in seven states of the mid-south identified as the TVA power service area.
The TVA power service area offers a great diversity of vegetation (from trees to brush to grasses). Vegetation can interfere with electric power flow, pose safety issues for TVA and members of the public, or interfere with our ability to maintain our system. To ensure that electric service to the public is not disrupted by outages on its transmission lines, TVA must keep vegetation away from the electric power facilities as well as control noxious weeds at our facilities. TVA’s vegetation management program will be a policy providing direction for managing vegetation throughout the TVA power service area.
More information on this environmental review can be obtained from: