Vegetation management is often the single largest line item in a utility maintenance budget. There are 5.7 million miles of transmission and distribution cables across the US and controlling the growth of trees and plants around them is necessary for ensuring uninterrupted utility service. It is estimated that US utilities spend billions of dollars each year to maintain vegetation located near utility infrastructure. According to Edison Electric Institute, the size of the investor-owned utilities' Industry Capital Expenditures was valued at US $139.8 billion in 2020. Add to that a report published by FTI Consulting, Inc., through its work for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and National Cooperative Services Corp., that found electric cooperatives contributed US $60.3 billion of capital investment between 2013 and 2017. Based on past performance, expectations are that these numbers will grow at a rate of 15 to 20% each year.
Federal regulations require transmission system operators to prevent the encroachment of vegetation growing into their facilities. The guidelines contained in NERC Standard FAC-003 require annual inspection of 100% of applicable lines. Considering this requirement covers well over 100K miles of line, most utilities perform these inspections from the air. Traditional methods of performing these assessments such as ground patrols and even LiDAR are costly and time consuming. Gathering the data on inspection history, problems identified, and actions taken that is necessary to prove compliance to regulators only adds to the challenge.
Distribution utilities face additional concerns such as:
Multiple utilities have successfully implemented Kyro digital solutions to support their utility vegetation management programs including mobile apps and web-based SaaS modules. With hundreds of users including both utility employees and various types of vegetation contractors, these programs are a testament to the effectiveness and ease of use of the Kyro solution.
The aerial vegetation assessment module of Kyro was specifically developed to be used while in a helicopter for the rapid assessment of lines where those findings can be sent to the SaaS web interface for review. Users can evaluate the findings through a workflow which includes ground verification, vegetation removal, and final inspection to prevent potential vegetation encroachments. Kyro greatly reduces the time and effort involved with maintaining compliance by streamlining the actual field operations as well as providing clear documentation needed when undergoing a federal audit.
The quick implementation and ease of use associated with Kyro make it an attractive solution for many small and mid-size utilities. The Kyro Vegetation Management Solution is one size fits all . It is currently being used by several small rural cooperatives serving 20-30K meters as well as some of the largest and fastest growing distribution coops in the country, serving hundreds of thousands of meters around major metropolitan areas.
Kyro VM provides email reports of completed work and other information that can be sent to individuals pre-determined by client. These reports are sent immediately upon submission of a completed form. Reports typically include the following:
A web browser-based set of dashboards displaying key program information (including the following) is also provided:
Clients utilizing the Kyro Vegetation Management Solution have seen overall program savings of 10-20% of their spend on the vegetation management budget through:
For many utilities, performing inspections can be a slow, manual process involving many hours to ensure proper compliance. In the connected age, mobility and analytics are transforming many aspects of our industry, and Kyro is leading the industry by seamlessly integrating modern technology into everyday work.
"Kyro has provided a powerful solution through their software," said one of the Assistant Vice President’s at Cross Texas Transmission.
"Kyro has greatly simplified the process of documenting vegetation issues and completing work, ensuring compliance in an increasingly challenging regulatory environment," said one of the Senior Vice President’s at CTT's parent company, LS Power.
“I want to thank you for all your hard work. You have built a program that I could only dream of. I believe we are about to become one of the most efficient of VM programs, a program that many others will benchmark against,” said the Vegetation Maintenance Manager at Pedernales Electric.