Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has selected the GeoDigital mapping and data analytics solution to boost the cost-effectiveness of the utility’s vegetation management programme. Built by Atlanta’s GeoDigital, it will assist BPA in assessing and managing the growth of trees and other vegetation surrounding more than 24,000km of power transmission lines. BPA says its decision to invest in spatial data and analytics is part of its public service commitment to efficiently deliver high reliability with environmental stewardship.

"BPA was looking to collect spatial data to proactively prevent vegetation related outages," said Chuck Sheppard, transmission strategy portfolio manager for BPA. "With such detailed insights, the benefits of spatial data are across the board – from accurately identifying and prioritising risks to the grid and their exact locations, to a safer and more efficient work in the field."

BPA’s service area comprises 777,000km2 across eight states, where the power agency operates and maintains about 75% of the high voltage power transmission lines. Preventing vegetation encroachment is a complex task due to the region’s rural and extreme terrain, requiring frequent manual inspections by hundreds of field crews employed by the utility or contracting service companies.

GeoDigital’s vegetation solution provides analytics and work-management software to predict and prioritise vegetation issues that pose outage risks and set priority maintenance issues. By digitising vegetation management, utilities can more efficiently manage thousands of kilometres of power lines in remote locations.

"Once a low-profile function, vegetation management is now paramount to energy providers," said Chris Warrington, GeoDigital president and CEO. "Many of the country’s most trusted and respected power companies, like BPA, are turning to us to help transform their vegetation management operations. We look forward to helping BPA generate actionable insights – continually raising the bar in delivering energy to consumers reliably, cost-effectively and with environmental responsibility."

The Bonneville Power Administration sells wholesale electricity from 31 federal dams to Northwest electric utilities, serving millions of consumers and businesses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.