Habersham EMC Pursuing Certification as Treeline USA Utility

Posted: May 1, 2019

Habersham EMC (HEMC) is pursuing certification as a Treeline USA utility from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

CEO Bradley Hicks and several from the HEMC leadership team met recently with Georgia Forestry Commission public outreach officials to discuss steps forward. “We take very seriously our role in the community to balance reliable power and cleared power-line easement through vegetation management,” says Hicks. “We are taking another step to assure we follow best practices.”

HEMC has several arborists on staff who advise on best practices so trees and power lines can co-exist.

HEMC will be graded on five core standards:

  • Quality Tree Care: Industry standards for pruning, planting, removals, trenching and tunneling near trees are consistently followed.
  • Annual Worker Training: Utility employees and contract workers are trained at least annually in best practices.
  • Tree Planting and Public Education: Tree planting and public education programs are available to the public and paying customers, demonstrating proper tree planting, placement and pruning while expanding the tree canopy in the community.
  • Tree-Based Energy Conservation Program: A formal tree-based energy conservation program is in place, putting special consideration on the value of trees in conserving energy.
  • Arbor Day Celebration: Sponsorship of or participation in annual Arbor Day events at the community level are documented, including collaboration with community groups whenever possible.

In March, HEMC completed the 351-mile first cycle of a five-year plan in its Ground to Sky easement clearance initiative. Since the vegetation management was completed in the cooperative’s southern section, between Cornelia and Clermont, there have been no outages caused by trees recorded.

“We are looking forward to continuing this work for our members to make our system more safe and reliable,” says Josh Allen, director of operations. “We appreciate the hard work of our HEMC forestry team making our system more resilient.”

If certification is approved, HEMC will become one of the few Treeline USA utilities in Georgia. Also planned is a tree giveaway in 2019, with details to come.

The Georgia Forestry Commission team is schedule to attend the 3 p.m. July 18 annual membership meeting at the Habersham Ninth Grade Academy at Mount Airy.