A Time for Reflection

Dec. 13, 2011
There’s something I always like to do as the year draws to a close. I find it good to reflect on the events, accomplishments and challenges over the year.

There’s something I always like to do as the year draws to a close. I find it good to reflect on the events, accomplishments and challenges over the year. This is doubly true for T&D World’s "Vegetation Management Insights" and "VM Resource Center," as they were launched last December. The reflection brings a sense of pride and a warm feeling of contentment.

Behind the scenes is an entire team at T&D World that contributes to the product you see in "VM Insights." That runs from Nikki Chandler, who gathers the news items and turns my editorials into the "VM Insights" you receive via email, to web design folks, to Chief Editor Rick Bush, with whom conversations are always stimulating and serve to take down fences I may have thought existed. The team also consists of the sales staff, without whom we don’t have a starting point. It has been a pleasure working with these people, and they have been very supportive.

When I look back over the ground covered this year, it’s quite gratifying. I had set a goal of providing the utility VM industry with the “most comprehensive compilation of vegetation management research and information.” If you have checked out the "VM Resource Center," I think you will agree we have achieved this. In the inaugural issue I also said that “VM Insights will include editorial content with which we intend to stimulate, provoke, educate and sometimes criticize.” Over the course of the year, I’ve managed to criticize VM program managers, engineers, senior utility management, regulators, politicians and the public. I can only hope that such provocation proved stimulating and educational.

And speaking of educational, it’s amazing to me how much ground has been covered in just one year. There were six editorials dealing with what could be categorized as managing expectations – with landowners, customers, regulators, politicians and utility management - around a range of issues from using herbicides as an integral component of the VM program to achieve a species shift to compatible vegetation, to electric system reliability performance expectations during major storms: Leveraging Customer Contact, The Best Defense Is A Good Offense, Public Perception and Vegetation Management, Vegetation Management Research, Electrical Service - A Common Good, Managing System Performance Expectations. There were three editorials on VM funding… the perennial corn of the professional vegetation manager: VM Funding, VM Funding – Getting it Right, VM Funding - Barriers. Two were dedicated to education: Vegetation Management Terms, Vegetation Management Metrics.

In September we added T&D TV. In the event you haven’t seen it, there is a VM video section. Do you need to explain to the public the risks associated with tree branches in contact with conductors? You’ll find good material under the “Tree in Line” banner. Be sure to fully pre-screen the video before showing it to the public because people can say things offensive to delicate ears when they’re frightened out of their skin by the flash and rifle shot bang of a phase to phase fault.

One of the primary intentions with the addition of video capability was to create and test an “ask the expert” section. For the VM topic area we’ve dubbed this Goose the Moose. There are a number of video responses to reader questions. If you reside in the northeast of the United States or any area that is routinely ravaged by wind or ice storms, then you will be interested in the video "Storm Hardening the Electric System," which again could be said to deal with managing expectations. You begin to control the expectations when you can communicate what tree conditions lead to storm caused outages, what actions result in real, proven avoidance of interruptions, and what the quantifiable reliability benefits and costs of mitigation are.

Also gratifying has been the interaction with readers. Thanks for the support, kind comments, even the odd statement of disagreement and to those of you who have chosen to Goose the Moose.

In the spirit of Christmas, may you be renewed; to enter the New Year with optimism and hope.

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