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Utility Speakers 2019

    Randall Miller, Director of Research, CN Utility Consulting, Iowa, USA

Title 1 - Impacts of wildfire on North American Utilities

Title 2 - An overview of Utility Arboriculture: The Utility Specialist Certification Study Guide

Bio:  Randall H. Miller is CNUC director of research and development, having joined the company in May 2017. He performs formal utility vegetation management industry benchmark studies among other responsibilities for CNUC. Prior to joining CNUC, he worked in PacifiCorp’s vegetation management department for more than 23 years, including 18 running the program,retiring as the director of vegetation management. As PacifiCorp’s VM director,Randall developed comprehensive specifications, based on industry best practices,to manage the company’s 100,000 kilometers of overhead distribution and transmission lines that reticulated the northwest quarter of the continental United States. He also served on ACRT’s Board of Directors from2009-2015. 

Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in urban forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He is an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist and an ISA Certified Utility Specialist (IL-0225BU). He has been Chair of the TREE Fund Board of Trustees, President of the Utility Arborist Association, twice Chair of the Edison Electric Institute Vegetation Management Task Force, and editor of the ISA Rocky Mountain Chapter newsletter. He has served on the ISA Certification Test Committee and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. Randall received the 2005 ISA RW Harris Author’s Citation and has the ISA Integrated Vegetation Management Best Management Practices and, with Geoff Kempter, Utility Arboriculture, The Utility Specialist Study Guide among his credits.


  James Urbanowsky, Senior Engineer – T&D Vegetation Asset Management, NB Power, Canada

Title 1: Reliability based vegetation management

Title 2: Future directions on vegetation management practises and strategies in North America/Canada


James has been working for NB Power for the past 18 years, starting as Distribution Vegetation Field Operations Manager, with a 25,000 km distribution network.

James is currently Senior Engineer T&D Vegetation Asset Management, responsible for T-veg NERC compliance, T&D vegetation annual plans, integrating LiDAR into program planning, and new process development.

As well, James is on several industry working committees, including CEATI, NATF and the US-UAA, benchmarking utility vegetation programs, leveraging GIS for vegetation management, applying linear programming for optimization, and defining strategies for improved reliability based vegetation management.  James is a Professional Engineer,Professional Forester, former certified gas pipeline inspector and ROW Agent,current ISA Certified Arborist / Utility Specialist, and Past President of ISA Atlantic.

    Daniel Heyburn - ETS, QLD

Title: Keeping our people safe - drop zones and exclusion zones

Bio: Passionate about both Arboriculture and Health and Safety, Daniel has 25 years of broad industry experience spanning Horticulture, Arboriculture, Workplace Health and Safety, Environment, Rehabilitation, Disaster Response, Training and Consulting practices. Supporting multiple states of Australia, Daniel joined ETS Vegetation Management in 2001 and has championed building ETS’s first training database, a combined training and audit database and an electronic integrated Safety Management System.
In his role of National Safety Environment Quality and Systems Manager, Daniel is responsible for seven state and divisional Safety Committees, driving HS&E initiatives across business, and is building a culture of safety and continuous improvement.

Oxana Dankova, BCG, NSW

Title: Global vegetation management practices - Pathway to 4.0

Bio: Oxana Dankova is a Partner and Managing Director in BCG’s Energy practice, based in Sydney.

Oxana is a core member of BCG’s global Network Transformation Services team and since 2006 has worked with multiple BCG Energy clients in Russia, Europe, North America and Middle East prior to transferring to Australia in 2015.

In Australia, she has been supporting several NEM DNSPs in end-to-end network operations improvement, process redesign and digitisation, advanced asset management capability build, and vegetation management.

Oxana holds an MA in Economics and a PhD from the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of the Russian Academy of Science

  Alexandra Lewis, SA Power Networks, SA

Title: Working with our stakeholders to deliver improvements and reduce our vegetation clearance requirements

Bio: Alexandra Lewis joined SA Power Networks in September 2013 within the Strategic Asset Management team which is responsible for the long-term and high-level management decisions relating to the electrical assets.

Since joining SA Power Networks she has been instrumental in the preparation of a long-term plan for vegetation management near powerlines, in close consultation with Local Government and key stakeholders, which aims to reduce the need for tree trimming over time and improve how we manage vegetation near powerlines.

Alex has a Masters in Environmental Planning and has worked for the past 20 years in a range of stakeholder engagement and environmental planning and assessment positions across state and local government and the private sector. Alex has extensive experience in stakeholder and community engagement.

    Heath Frewin, Vegetation Strategy Manager, Essential Energy

Title: Six impacts of distributed energy on utility vegetation management

Drawing from experiences of Australian network service providers, as well as the world-leading work of Energy Networks Australia, Australian Energy Market Operator and the CSIRO, I explore what a highly distributed power system could mean for utility vegetation management. Possibilities include changes to clearance space design complexity, less remote work and LAHA, additional transmission line management, safety impacts, and increased customer engagement resources.


Stephen Martin, Land Strategist, Powerlink, QLD

2019 Conference Abstract: Presentation: Right of Way Management - Insights from the International Symposium, Denver

Stephen is actively involved in knowledge sharing, which is demonstrated through his involvement in various industry bodies, such as the Energy Network Association Vegetation Management Working Group.

Stephen Martin is currently Land Strategist of Powerlink Queensland, which includes setting policy, monitoring performance, liaising with stakeholders and identifying efficiencies during a period of significant industry change.

In 2018, Stephen realised a career goal and presented two papers on the International Right of Way Symposium in Denver, Colorado.  Stephen will share the learnings and experience from the Symposium at the Arboriculture Australia Annual Conference.

    Stacie Grassano, Operations Manager, Intelfuse, VIC, AUS

2019 Conference Abstract - A practical approach to risk driven Vegetation Management

Stacie is Co-Founder and General Manager Technology and Operations at Intelfuse and has fifteen years’ experience in the geospatial, LiDAR and tree care industry and is an ISA Certified Utility Arborist PD-1435AU. Stacie holds a Master of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science specialising in Entomology. She has worked in the Environmental, Research, IT and Electricity Utility Sectors and is a certified Project Management Professional with the PMI. 

Stacie has served as Project Director for major IT and LiDAR development and delivery projects in North America and Asia Pacific, including major Remote Sensing Electricity Transmission and Distribution Projects. Stacie’s core focus is the development and implementation of innovative LiDAR processing technology that greatly advances analytics for vegetation and asset management programs.

  Shane Brunker, Sophie Davison and Steve McKenzie

Title: Understanding the past, present and future of vegetation risks on a bushfire prone electricity network with geospatial analysis

Endeavour Energy and NM Group have worked together to understand the dynamics of vegetation on this large, dispersed electricity distribution network. The innovative project used spatial analysis and sophisticated model building to combine multi-temporal LiDAR data with a dozen other sources including historical meteorology, vegetation work patterns and actual observations of tree fall. Cloud processing enabled the massive processing of these datasets and the creation of localised models which described where vegetation was situated, how fast it was growing towards lines and the potential hazards posed by individual trees based on a predictive index. The results enabled the improved targeting of ongoing inspection, trimming and tree removal works and ultimately help minimise cost and better manage network risks. 

 Shane Brunker - Technical Director,NM Group

Shane oversees the development of new products and services with our R&D branch and leads on the implementation of new equipment and systems.Shane has been with NM Group for 7 years and previously managed our field operations and processing/engineering teams. His background is the geospatial and remote sensing sciences, having earlier worked on the spatial and land information side of government.

Sophie Davison –Product Manager, NM Group

Sophie is currently a product manager at NM Group, focusing on innovating their geospatial vegetation management solutions, and previously spent the best part of the last 8 years working in and researching forest environments. Sophie shares academic and industry experience in using LiDAR and other Remote Sensing technologies to model and visualise these complex natural systems, having spent time working at both academic institutions and in the geospatial industry.

Scott McKenzie (Vegetation Manager, Endeavour Energy)

Three decades of studying Australian native vegetation, Scott McKenzie has developed, managed, and taught a range of conservation/risk-based programs throughout Australia.  Specialising in NSW environmental legislation and risk-based modelling, Scott has co- authored a range of documents including Endeavour Energy’s vegetation control manual, hazard tree identification course and has been a technical reviewer for the industry safety standards (NSW)including bushfire risk mitigation. In 2018 Scott collaborated with a team to develop a risk-based model assessing growth rates and hazard trees to optimise vegetation maintenance performance cycles using LiDAR technology.

    Panel Topic 1 - Who's engaging the customer, and where's the value?
MC: Heath Frewin

    Panel Topic 2 - Working near power lines safely, 100% of the time
MC: Pete Halliwell

    Panel Topic 3 - The value and challenges of implementing long term Vegetation Management strategies

Many utilities are often in a state of flux, changing budgets, legislative requirements, resourcing, structure changes and customer expectations all put pressure on our programs.  What doesn’t change though is while we sort through these issues the trees don’t stop growing.  Demonstrating to the decision makers a sustainable, proactive, long term strategy is the best outcome for all stakeholders.  This presents the biggest challenge for utilities to deliver on this model.  Join myself and other key stakeholder as we have an in-depth panel discussion to examine all aspects and a forward direction.

MC: Matt Palmer

Matt Palmer is the Energy Queensland Vegetation Specialist and Arborist.  Matt started at Energex Nearly 30 years ago as an apprentice electrician and has worked in the vegetation area for the last 20 years, he has been in his current role for 10 years.  Matt has overseen Energy Queensland vegetation program, how it has evolved from a reactive piecemeal program to a proactive program focusing on maintaining good performance while obtaining good financial outcomes.  Matt also manages Energy Queensland’s native hardwood forests for producing powerpoles and Energy Queensland’s fire mitigation policies.

    Panel Topic 4 - Big data - what vegetation data do we really need?
MC: Kevin Hamblin

    Panel Topic 4 - Big data - what vegetation data do we really need?
MC: Kevin Hamblin

Please note: presenter and topics are subject to change


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