Utility Arborist Research Fund
WHAT IS UARF?
The Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund) and the Utility Arborist Association (UAA) established the Utility Arborist Research Fund (UARF) in 2010 to finance work with real importance and benefit to utility tree care professionals. If UARF research generates even a 1.0% reduction in tree-related outages, customer complaints, and emergency tree work, the financial, public relations, and worker safety returns on investment will be immense.
The UARF endowment target is $1.0 million, which would provide at least $50,000 per year in perpetuity for new utility research projects. With seed money from Arizona Public Service Co. and gifts from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), Ameren, National Grid, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Texas New Mexico Power, Edison Electric Institute and many others, the UARF endowment stood at approximately $360,000 at the end of 2015.
WHAT IS THE PG&E CHALLENGE?
PG&E recognizes that sustainable utility practices are dependent on research. To help complete the UARF fundraising campaign, PG&E established a $250,000 matching gift program in early 2016 to inspire others, while also providing an additional $250,000 in seed funding for a long-term utility right-of-way integrated vegetation management project to begin in late 2016. For every $2.00 donated to UARF in 2016 and 2017, PG&E will add an extra $1.00, up to $125,000 each year. Any and all contributions – from individuals, utilities, tree contractors, consultants and friends of the industry alike – specifically designated by their donors for UARF in 2016 and 2017 qualify for the match, providing an immediate 50% return on all funds invested. Note that STIHL Tour des Trees riders may request that their donors designate their rider support gifts to UARF. To qualify for the 2016 match, such gifts must be received by TREE Fund before October 1, 2016, and the designation must be made in writing by the donor, not the rider.
WHO HAS ACCEPTED THE PG&E CHALLENGE?
As of August 24, 2016, the following companies have accepted the PG&E Challenge to fully empower UARF:
Berkshire Hathaway Energy Foundation
$20,000 to $35,000
The Davey Tree Expert Company
Asplundh Tree Expert Company
Mowbray’s Tree Service
Nelson Tree Service
Wright Tree Service
Lewis Tree Service
$1,000 to $10,000
Middle Tennessee Electric
CN Utility Consulting
East Central Energy
Additionally, individuals from within and beyond the utility arboriculture industry have paid nearly $4,000 toward UARF since January 1, 2016, qualifying for the match.
Not on the list? Do your part to help build a brighter future for utility arboriculture. Donate to the UARF today!
WHAT WILL UARF SUPPORT?
The first UARF grants supported John Goodfellow’s work to develop and prove a quantitative approach to determining optimal vegetation management spending and cycle times. The project was successful in constructing and validating a risk-based model that can support informed decisions on the tradeoffs between vegetation maintenance expense and tree-initiated risk to overhead distribution systems. The project report was issued in late 2015, and demonstrated that without consideration of the indirect cost impact of outages on customers, it may be difficult to establish a basis for preventive maintenance.
TREE Fund, PG&E, and UAA are currently working to launch a test project in late 2016 to examine various vegetation management techniques on power line rights-of-way, thereby providing better understanding of the impacts of selective herbicidal and mechanical or manual approaches to integrated vegetation management, and the subsequent effects on wildlife and plant communities. Research sites will include a variety of ecosystem types and locations, including sites where vegetation management may need to be balanced with control of fire risk. This initial project is expected to be the beginning of a long-term (10+ year) research effort that would be funded by UARF upon completion of the endowment-building campaign.