Trees are valuable to our landscape — they add beauty to our surroundings and enhance our environment. Those same trees, coming in contact with power lines, however, are the single leading cause of power outages.

In a continued effort to meet our mission of providing the most safe, reliable, and affordable electricity possible, while at the same time balancing the beauty of our landscape and being good environmental stewards, JOEMC utilizes a carefully planned Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) Program.

The primary goal of our IVM Program is to develop an environmental-friendly approach to vegetation management that is designed to improve reliability, provide for safe and efficient operation and maintenance of our electrical system, maximize cost-effectiveness, and enhance member satisfaction.

This approach, which is evaluated for safety and environmental impact, includes both mechanical (maintaining right-of-way with equipment such as tractors and chain saws) as well as the spraying of chemical herbicides that have been tested and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Spraying of right-of-way is done in strict accordance with prescribed regulations. In addition, every right-of-way employee at JOEMC has their applicator license and is certified annually by the State of North Carolina.

The herbicides used are not common “weed killers” but are plant specific, selective chemicals. The objective is to change the vegetation of the right-of-way areas from aggressive plants, like pine and wax leave plants, and promote the growth of grass and other low-growing plants.

Ground nesting birds and animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and deer are not harmed by the herbicides. In fact, many protection organizations for animals have studied the effects of long term spraying (versus mowing and cutting) and strongly promote these practices. One example is a study conducted by the National Wild Turkey Federation — it revealed that an IVM Program, like the one JOEMC has in place, helps restore native plants and grasses which creates an environment where wildlife can thrive and migrate more freely.

Quails Unlimited has highlighted Jones-Onslow’s IVM Program in past publications and the NC Department of Transportation, NC Vegetation Management Association, and Dow AgroSciences have all visited JOEMC because of its practices.

Right-of-way maintenance is performed on a regular three-year rotating cycle and performed throughout the year. The spraying portion of the IVM Program is seasonal and is conducted from late spring through early fall. Because of this spraying, aggressive plants don’t return as they would with mowing or cutting alone.

What about the “brown” or “dead-looking” plants you see along the right-of way? They are a temporary result of the selective spraying process. Although not pretty to look at, they are temporary — the removal of these undesirable plants will result in a more visually pleasing right-of-way in future years. It also allows JOEMC to continue to provide the most safe, reliable, and affordable electricity possible.