Massachusetts regulators establish rules on vegetation maintenance notification for transmission companies

Transmission companies must make a good faith effort to notify several affected classes of parties as well as state regulators no less than 30 days before starting any transmission-related vegetation maintenance activities, according to proposed regulations by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

The DPU on July 31 issued an order instituting a rulemaking establishing requirements for notification of vegetation maintenance activities for transmission rights-of-way.

In August 2012, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law “An Act relative to the emergency service response of public utility companies,” which requires that transmission companies make a good faith effort to provide notice to the DPU, municipal officials and right-of-way abutters within the specified time frame, and directs the DPU to promulgate the rules and regulations.

The proposed regulations do not supersede any existing, applicable vegetation maintenance requirements, and they provide for two types of notice: annual notice and 30-day notice, the DPU added.

They require transmission companies to notify the DPU and the mayor, city manager or chairman of the board of selectmen in each municipality of each transmission-related vegetation maintenance activity planned for the following calendar year, before Dec. 15.

The notices, the DPU added, must include a description of the specific vegetation maintenance activities to be undertaken, the time frame and location for such activities and contact information for the transmission company.

The transmission companies are to maintain a log of such notifications, including the date of notification and form of notification, such as door hangers, and must maintain the log for five years as well as provide the log to the DPU upon request.

Furthermore, each transmission company must maintain up-to-date lists of the mayor, city manager or chairman of the board of selectmen in each municipality where the company maintains transmission rights-of-way.

The DPU also said that the proposed regulations provide exemptions from the notification requirements during preparation for an imminent emergency event, during the emergency event and during the subsequent restoration and post-restoration activities related to such an event, which is defined as an event in which widespread outages or service interruptions have occurred in the transmission company’s service area due to storms or other causes beyond the company’s control.

The proposed regulations also provide exemptions from the notification requirements during a critical event, which is defined as an event in which there is an immediate risk or actual impairment of service reliability or public safety, or in which access to transmission facilities is needed to restore power.

The DPU also said that it will issue a notice of public hearing and request for comments on the regulations.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3107 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.