Ameren Illinois is staying ahead of the herd.
The utility is experimenting with an environmental-friendly way to remove invasive vegetation in difficult-to-reach rights-of-way across its service territory.
Currently, the company is piloting the use of 50 goats along a steep and rocky plot of land in Hillview, Ill., in Greene County. The area is covered with dense vegetation that must be removed to give linemen a clear line of sight to the power lines and poles that traverse the property. The line of sight is necessary for routine inspections, maintenance and accessibility during power outages.
Tree trimmers with chainsaws could be called in to clear the area but much of the terrain is in a ravine, making walking conditions difficult at times.
It was decided that goats were the most sure-footed crew to remove the vegetation. The job of the 50 goats is to dine on a high-protein diet of honey suckle, poison ivy and other dense-like brush. The goats, which were supplied by Litchfield-based Goats on the Go, can remove approximately an acre’s worth of vegetation in a week.
“When I was first approached about the idea of using goats to clear the underbrush, I was very skeptical,” said Raymond Riddle, director of Construction Services, Ameren Illinois. “But it is amazing how quickly and effectively they can do the job in those hard-to-reach areas. Ultimately, this is about making it easier and safer for our crews to get access to our equipment to do their work. We’ll assess the results and look at using goats for vegetation management in 2020 and beyond.”