Here’s How Our Methods Can Help Solve Vegetation Management Problems

by: 7 min read

In this article:

  • Learn why vegetation management is so important
  • Learn about the risks of not prioritizing vegetation management
  • Learn how Clearsight vegetation inspection methods provide value


Vegetation management is often one of the most significant challenges facing utility providers with above-ground utility assets and equipment. A lack of management puts the services provided at risk, but the process can require such a large scale of organization that it often feels like a constant battle.

Constellation Clearsight vegetation inspection solutions are a valuable and easy way to boost vegetation management efforts without having to make major investments in equipment or a larger labor force.

Why Does Vegetation Management Matter So Much?

Trees can cause physical damage or power interruptions to critical energy infrastructure. In many parts of the US, vegetation management is the largest single contracted cost to electric companies. Understanding the threat that trees pose and how that threat can change over time is essential to ensuring vegetation management dollars are effectively spent. One of the best ways to understand and mitigate the threat posed by trees is through utilizing the intelligence derived from timely inspections.

Unlock the full potential of your vegetation management program with Constellation Clearsight and stay ahead of tree-related threats to your energy infrastructure.

Storms, droughts, insect and disease outbreaks, and wildfires all add to the risk posed by the normal cycle of tree growth. As the risks posed by trees increases, driven by unpredictable weather and invasive pests and diseases, the need for proactive inspections also increases. These proactive inspections provide utility foresters with the intelligence they need to effectively guide vegetation maintenance programs.

Related Reading: Forest Health Monitoring: Using Drones and Remote Sensing to Protect Your Vegetation

For example, the arrival of exotic insect pests like the pine beetle or emerald ash borer can suddenly accelerate the need for more aggressive maintenance to prevent costly line damage. With the sheer volume of area to cover for most utility systems, it’s in the best interest of the energy provider and customer that proactive inspections and assessments be performed to minimize the threat of unexpected cost hikes.

Clearsight’s range of vegetation management solutions do exactly this. Our vegetation inspection solutions provide accurate, critical information on a consistent basis that is prioritized and easy to pull insights from.

Don’t Wait to Inspect Vegetation

We maximize grid efficiency with complete network visualization and real-time monitoring.

Many utility companies perform inspections on schedules that match their maintenance programs, which can commonly range from five to ten years. If you’re waiting that long, faster growing trees will be back in contact with electric lines, and other external factors such as adverse weather and pests can damage or kill trees.

Our methodology provides utilities and co-ops with a complete visualization of their entire network. It offers a variety of different inspection methods so that inspections can be performed more often, and problem areas are identified before they impact the electric grid. Through innovative monitoring techniques, our results are almost immediately accessible through our customer portal containing an interactive map that makes it easy to prioritize the most pressing issues.

Our inspection methodology offers multiple techniques for fast and efficient monitoring, with results accessible through an interactive map on our customer portal.

Advanced inspection and management recommendation services are vital to protecting crucial energy infrastructure. Keeping electric infrastructure clear of overgrowth and damaging vegetation will greatly reduce any associated dangers or risk of customer downtime.

Why Choose Clearsight?

There are several problems that can arise when proactive vegetation management is delayed.

Utility companies that rely on boots on ground, manual inspection often find their labor costs rising significantly as their system grows. New connections and larger service areas mean more inspections are needed, which can get expensive to manage with workers alone.

Related Reading: 6 Key Insights to Help Utilities Evaluate Companies Using Drones to Inspect Electrical Assets

A major benefit of our visual inspection is that it allows any utility professional to visually view the span-by-span location and density of vegetation. This includes finding conditions such as danger trees, hazard trees, under-wire volunteer trees, over-wire canopy trees, and vines through our client portal quickly and easily, leaving no vegetation to question.

Easily combine our visual inspections with our LiDAR survey or use LiDAR as a standalone service and you’ll receive even more insights. LiDAR surveys provide an engineering-grade level of information on tree encroachment and fall-in risk. Plus, the data can be used for advanced purposes such as comparing vegetation conditions to modeled line sag and blow-out conditions.

Enhance your vegetation management strategy with advanced insights from our LiDAR survey, providing engineering-grade information on tree encroachment and fall-in risk.

We also provide satellite vegetation inspections. Satellite imagery is used to rapidly perform inspections over larger areas to gain a snapshot view of an area in the entire service territory. It provides valuable insights between other, more intensive inspections.

Missing out on inspection opportunities leads to reduced safety and higher liability. There may be a fire or property damage due to a collapsed line, or outages that lead to customer dissatisfaction and high repair costs. In many states, there is also the possibility of monetary penalties if downtime is excessive. Avoid fines, liability claims, and much more with an advanced utility inspection service such as Clearsight.

How Clearsight Uses Cutting-Edge Inspection Technology

Clearsight inspection teams are made up of subject matter experts (SMEs), drone pilots, and certified utility foresters. Together, the team can dissect the common problems that arise from vegetation and may be affecting your network. Thanks to the help of the innovative technology that our team deploys, we can pinpoint problems before they cause damage. We adapt our approach to each area based on climate conditions, invasive plants known to cause problems, and other unique issues.

  • Drones: The core of our technology involves a wide range of visual techniques for assessing forest health. We deploy drones to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire set of transmission and distribution assets including feeders, breakers, transformers, utility lines, and more.
  • GPS Mapping: You can easily combine our visual vegetation inspection with a visual pole and equipment inspection, providing corrected GPS locations for all assets. Our inspections are easily customizable, meaning you can focus on tree type, focus on an area, or get a global view of your entire corridor. With our insights, you’ll be able to make informed financial and practical decisions by knowing what work to do and when.

Getting a view of the aerial lines at the level of the actual equipment offers a much more accurate report on encroachment than ground inspections alone. Even the most skilled line worker can overlook a branch or leaning tree that’s out of their eye line from the ground.

Related: Learn more about what technology Constellation Clearsight deploys, such as drones, robots, submersibles, AI and software to achieve more effective inspections.

  • NDVI: Our Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) process identifies stress symptoms that might result from disease, pests, or drought. It’s easy to find areas that need extra attention or trimming with NDVI imagery and more from Clearsight.
  • LiDAR: This is a laser sensor we attach to drones that can measure distance and identify vegetation creating a 3D map of the entire network so we can fully visualize the vegetation closest to your assets. Decision making can be much easier with this technology at your fingertips.
  • PLS CADD: Our computer-aided design and draft capabilities allow us to create model simulations of power line systems, giving us an even better ability to predict problems.
  • Satellite: Inspection data derived from satellite imagery can provide valuable insights on tree proximity to wires and forest health. Over time, when paired with other techniques (such as drone visual inspection), satellite can prove a useful addition to the range of inspection options available in the market today.

Don’t let beautiful, forested areas become threats to your utility system’s stability and reliability. Tackle tree and plant growth issues proactively with our help. Vegetation management should be a priority for utility companies and co-ops of all kinds. Contact us at Clearsight today to speak to an expert about our vegetation management inspections.

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