A Valid and Reliable Credential for All Stake HoldersIndustry
ROW Steward Accreditation
by Derek Vannice, ROWSC Chair
This article was originally published in the July/August 2014 issue of Utility Arborist Newsline.
The ROW Steward Council (ROWSC) has officially launched the Accreditation Standards for Assessing Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) Excellence. These standards will be used by independent auditors to assess IVM programs at utilities applying to obtain the ROW Steward Accreditation. These requirements were developed by utilizing a rigorous process so that they are reliable, and provide valid criteria to assess and accredit utility’s IVM programs by qualified auditors.
What is the Process?
These principles and criteria were years in the making. They include previous principles and criteria utilized by the Electric Power Research Institute for auditing purposes. The IVM Best Management Practices developed by ISA and reviewed by the top professionals in the Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) industry are also utilized.
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), who represents the experts in IVM and UVM, reviewed all of the principles and criteria and surveyed the entire industry to determine the validity of each item. The committee then produced a draft document that was used by the auditors in three pilot programs intended to validate the proposed accreditation requirements. The ROWSC is made up of all stakeholders including representatives from utilities, contractors, consultants, environmental non-profits, government agencies, and the public.
The three pilot utilities were audited and achieved accreditation. The audit committee provided comments to the ROWSC and the TAC. The ROWSC then provided additional comments and were also sent to the TAC for review and incorporation into the final document. The Accreditation Standards document was approved by the ROWSC in late February. The document is available for review by all stakeholders.
What Does it Mean?
The UVM industry and electric utilities currently have a document that includes principles, criteria, indicators, and verifiers that prove they are following the industry best practices. It can be used by utilities to help measure how they stack up to the accreditation standards. By going through the stringent process with input from all stakeholders, utilities that go through the application and audit process and achieve accreditation can be assured that the credential is a valid and reliable measurement of their program.
Where Does It Go From Here?
The ROWSC, in cooperation with Dovetail Partners, will be finishing our website and expanding and training the number of auditors. The ROWSC will also work closely with all of the stakeholders to show the value of the accreditation to the utility customers, landowners, non-profit organizations, federal and state land agencies, and government regulatory organizations. We will also be working with those utilities who already recognize the value of the credential and who are willing to start going through the accreditation process.
Speaking on behalf of the ROWSC, we appreciate the countless hours of work from those who have provided input and served on the committees. We would also like to recognize the pilots who had the vision to help get this important credential off the ground.
Thank you Arizona Public Service, Vermont Electric Company, and New York State Power Authority. If you are interested in the program or obtaining the document please contact Kathryn Fernholz, 612-333- 0430, [email protected]