WHAT IS UARF?
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.
As of September 2017, the UARF endowment has topped $1.0 million, providing $50,000 per year in perpetuity for new utility research projects.
TREE Fund is grateful to UAA and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for their partnership in achieving the $1.0 million activation goal for UARF. In 2016 and 2017, PG&E offered the PG&E Challenge – a $250,000 matching gift program where they would add $1.00 to every $2.00 donated to the fund, up to $125,000 each year. Thank you to the following companies that accepted the PG&E Challenge:
Major Donors ($100,000+)
Berkshire Hathaway Energy Foundation
Mowbray’s Tree Service
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Lead Donors ($20,000 to $99,999)
Asplundh Tree Expert Company
The Davey Tree Expert Company
Lewis Tree Service
Nelson Tree Service
Utility Arborist Association
Wright Tree Service
Donors ($2,500 to $19,999)
CN Utility Consulting
Jarraff Industries, Inc.
Middle Tennessee Electric
PG&E Challenge funding, in addition to the initial seed money from Arizona Public Service Co., Ameren, National Grid, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Texas New Mexico Power, and Edison Electric Institute, resulted in the UARF reaching its $1.0 million goal, and TREE Fund will begin issuing UARF grants in 2018.
WHAT WILL UARF GRANTS SUPPORT?
The first UARF grants (2012-14) supported John Goodfellow’s work to develop and prove a quantitative approach to determining optimal vegetation management spending and cycle times. The project “Development of a business case for scheduling utility vegetation management on a preventative vs. corrective maintenance basis” 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.
A 2016 UARF grant to Christopher M. Halle, PhD (Sonoma State University) and Co-Investigator Claudia Luke, PhD (Sonoma State University) will compare the efficacy of mechanical only vs. mechanical plus herbicide treatment in establishing low-growing native plant communities in a range of western ecosystems in the “Integrated vegetation management on powerline rights of ways: effects of vegetation treatment on plant communities and wildlife diversity” project. The effects on local animals and pollinators will also be studied.
Starting in 2018, TREE Fund, in consultation with UAA, is awarding one to five UARF grants totaling $50,000 annually (minimum award of $10,000).
The 2018 UARF grant recipient is John Goodfellow of Bio-Compliance Consulting, Inc. for the project, “The cost-effectiveness of integrated vegetation management.“