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Planting practices provide environmentally friendly benefits

Of all the important work done at PEC, none has a closer relationship to nature than vegetation management. While PEC adheres to federal vegetation management standards that are critical for ensuring the safe delivery of reliable electric service, we’re taking it a step further by planting environmentally friendly seed mix, known as food plots, along our transmission and distribution easements.

Mowing easements can be a major — but necessary — expense to maintain access to electric equipment. In 2019, PEC started reseeding easements with food plots that help reduce the need to mow, while also benefiting animals and pollinating insects.

The new seed mix, which only grows to 12 inches in height at maturity, is 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 important pollinators like butterflies.

The benefits are two-fold: reducing mowing costs and making PEC more responsible stewards of the environment. Plus, it allows us to be better neighbors to our members. “Landowners recognize the benefits of open easements and share our goals of providing reliable electric service,” PEC Vegetation Management Supervisor Ryan Krause explained. “And all of our members benefit from the cost savings.”

In the second spring since starting to use the food plots, the benefits of this program are in full bloom. “We have dramatically cut back on mowing to allow for native grasses to grow on both transmission and distribution easements,” Krause said. “This allows us to divert more resources to the removal of invasive, woody species and replace them with food plot and wildflower seeds.”

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.

“These integrative management techniques take time, but the results have become evident this spring,” Krause said. It is now common to spot deer, butterflies, and other wildlife in our easements. Mowers? Less so.

For more information on our vegetation maintenance practices, visit pec.coop/reliability.