The cost-effectiveness of integrated vegetation management

2018 | John Goodfellow, Bio-Compliance Consulting, Inc.

There are 450,000 miles of transmission line operating at 35-765 kV across North America, with a total land area being managed as electric transmission rights-of-way (ROW) estimated at between 9-11 million acres. There are an additional 306,000 miles of natural gas and liquid petroleum pipeline in North America, representing an estimated 2 million areas of land. The researchers believe that less than half the total land areas in ROW is currently being managed under an IVM regime.

A project team led by John W. Goodfellow, and including SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry professors Chris Nowak Ph.D. and John Wagner Ph.D., recently completed a project that defined the economic business case for Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) on electric transmission ROW. The scope of that project applied least-cost economic analysis methods that focus exclusively on the direct cost to the utility of IVM practices. That approach limited any consideration of the benefits of IVM to simply avoided cost. However, indirect costs and benefits of IVM are important considerations.

The project being proposed will supplement the least-cost project, broadening the assessment to include consideration of the many benefits of IVM, and will result in a more holistic assessment that includes both economic considerations and environmental externalities associated with IVM. This will be accomplished by applying a cost-effectiveness analysis method to empirically combine monetary costs of a management action with outcomes produced from that action that can also be quantified, but that are not easily monetized. The project will also update and broaden the focus of the original least-cost study to include application of IVM methods on pipeline ROW. The goal is to produce a reference that will be useful to practitioners in selecting the least-costly and most beneficial ROW vegetation management techniques from a longer-term perspective of sustainability.

Carolyn Mahan, Ph.D., (Penn State University) and Phillip Charlton, Ph.D., will be collaborating with Mr. Goodfellow and Dr. Nowak for this expanded study.


For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at