Cross Training between Electric Crews and Maryland Forest Service

Monday, October 30, 2017
Since its creation by the Maryland Public Service Commission in 1999, the Maryland Electric Reliability Tree Trimming Council (MERTT) has been a forum where public agencies and electric utilities meet to discuss how to comply with regulatory requirements through best management practices.  The aim is to accomplish both management of vegetation on and off overhead electric rights-of-way and environmental stewardship which directly or indirectly affects electric reliability within the State during a storm event.  The members include representatives from the Public Service Commission, Maryland Forest Service, Maryland State Highway Administration and the electric utilities within the state including Pepco, BGE, SMECO, Potomac Edison, Delmarva Power and Choptank Cooperative.  Meetings have been held quarterly since 1999.   
One of the MERTT Council’s first actions was to conduct a series of statewide trainings for Maryland Forest Service field staff, the electric utilities vegetative staff and their tree-trimming contractors.  The trainings covered topics such as electric utility equipment, utility vegetative management, tree caused outages, applicable ANSI standards and proper tree trimming in accordance with Maryland’s Roadside Tree Law and Licensed Tree Expert Law.  The trainings were designed to enable a common understanding of daily operation between all parties.  The trainings were held one in each of MD DNR’s four regions which also roughly correlate to the territories of the six utilities.  The cross training was determined to be successfully as communication between both sides became more effective and enforcement actions dropped in number. 

The MERTT Council has gone full circle and determined 17 years later, there was again a need to hold the cross training for state and utility vegetative management staff.  The training covered the basics of the first training with additional information on conducting work on state lands and an emphasis on two new major changes to utility vegetative management in Maryland – the recently adopted Public Service Commission’s Vegetative Management Requirements as well as the Commission’s Rule Making 43.  The regulations and rule making outline line clearance distances based on line voltage, customer notification, and the specimen tree designation which enables these specific trees to not be trimmed or removed.  This year approximately 250 staffers attended the statewide trainings and there have been requests to conduct the training on a regular basis from the electric utility companies.                 
For more information, please contact:

Marian Honeczy

Supervisor, Urban & Community Forestry

Maryland Department of Natural Resources 
Forest Service
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes State Office Building, E-1
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
(410) 260-8511 Fax: (410) 260-8595