The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has become the first Right‑of‑Way Steward Utility to achieve reaccreditation from the Right‑of‑Way Stewardship Council (ROWSC) by meeting the latest standards for sustainable Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) of transmission rights‑of‑way.
NYPA is one of seven North American utilities established as a Right‑of‑Way Steward Utility and was only the third utility to be accredited and established as a Right-of-Way Steward Utility Founder. The recognition from the ROWSC reflects NYPA’s progress toward meeting its Strategic Vision 2020 by implementing IVM procedures that increase the resiliency and reliability of NYPA’s transmission infrastructure while promoting environmental, social and economic sustainability.
The ROWSC sets the standards for preserving and maintaining transmission system rights‑of‑way. To meet the technical requirements, utilities must implement IVM, which balances the control of undesirable species by allowing desirable low‑growing shrub and grassy areas that don’t obstruct transmission lines or utility access to flourish. By populating transmission corridors with desirable species, utilities can limit the natural resources available to undesirable species, in turn reducing the need to control those undesirable species.
Utilities must apply to the ROWSC to start the accreditation process. As part of the process, the ROWSC performs a field audit and assessment, comparing all aspects of a utility’s IVM program to the principles and criteria set forth in the latest standards. After satisfying the program criteria during an audit in September, NYPA officially received reaccreditation on December 3, 2018. The reaccreditation reflects NYPA’s work to improve the reliability of the New York State power system under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s leadership and Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, as well as its pioneering efforts to promote IVM and ecosystem preservation.
“NYPA applies Integrated Vegetation Management not only to prevent system downtime but also to deliver increasing value to our local communities and customers by managing the transmission infrastructure through a lens of sustainability,” says Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “The Right-of-Way Steward accreditation is becoming widely recognized, and more utilities are following our example by incorporating IVM practices into their operations.”
Vegetation management became a particularly important focus area for utilities following the Northeast Blackout of 2003, which was caused by transmission lines sagging and coming into contact with foliage. “Better vegetation management in your right‑of‑way leads to a more reliable electric system,” says Lewis Payne, NYPA manager of ROW/Environmental. “When you’re a right‑of‑way steward, you’re also looking at the flora and fauna, the environmental issues and the cultural resources to maintain the rich biodiversity that’s out there. It’s about fulfilling your responsibility to the environment and the community as well as your stakeholders and your customers.”
NYPA owns and operates about one‑third of New York’s high‑voltage power lines. These lines transmit power from NYPA’s three large hydroelectric generation facilities and independent wind power generation facilities, connecting nearly 7,000 mW of renewable energy to New York State’s power grid. This includes connecting more than 6,300 mW of hydroelectric power and about 700 mW, or more than a third, of New York State‑generated wind energy to the grid.