Cooperative News

Planting practices provide environmentally-friendly benefits

New seed mix along transmission easements benefits members and wildlife

When managing transmission easements, PEC adheres to federal vegetation management standards that are critical for ensuring the safe delivery of reliable electric service. For PEC Senior Utility Forester Matt Austin, a new program may provide a valuable answer to help exceed those standards.

Recently, PEC started reseeding easements with food plots that will help reduce the need to mow, while also benefiting animals and pollinating insects. Mowing transmission easements can be a major — but necessary — expense.

Planting practices provide environmentally-friendly benefits

The new seed mix, which only grows to 12 inches in height at maturity, is also an attractive food to animals like deer, so they can do the mowing for us while they eat. These edible easements help keep wildlife off the roads, and including native wildflowers in the seed mix benefits pollinators such as butterflies.

“In addition to the cost savings, this program is all about PEC being the best neighbor we can be,” Austin says. “Less frequent mowing means fewer instances where we need to access members’ properties. Minimizing vegetation on these easements also helps reduce the risk of wildfires.”

That neighborly spirit also extends to wildlife, lending a helping hand to native species that may have been pushed out by development. These easements can become microhabitats for sustaining life, filling a similar role to greenbelts or the Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Refuge near Marble Falls.

In situations where easements run through private property, PEC works directly with the landowner to ensure there are no issues with planting. The seed mix can be eaten by cattle, and the wildflowers can be omitted in areas where livestock graze.

“We’re very excited about the potential of this reseeding program,” Austin said. “PEC’s mission is to deliver the best possible service at the lowest possible cost. This helps us to do so while providing numerous additional benefits. It’s a positive change from any perspective.”