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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Ferguson

05 | Essential Energy, Heath Frewin, Manager Strategy - Vegetation

This episode includes a short round up from the Trees and Utilities conference in Minneapolis followed by an in-depth interview with our first Australian guest, Heath Frewin, Manager Strategy - Vegetation at Essential Energy. Essential Energy is one of Australia’s largest networks delivering electricity to a staggering 95% of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, including some 865,000 homes and businesses. The service territory is a whopping 737,000 square kilometers, from the Wadbilliga National Park in the south of the state to the Gold Coast in Queensland to the north, an area larger than Texas. Essential Energy is state-owned, and is responsible for over 180,000km (or 112,000 miles) of sub-transmission and distribution lines. Heath is a forester by background and has held several senior roles advancing asset management and vegetation strategy. As we all know, Australia is dealing with many of the same challenges that we are dealing with here in North America, including drought conditions and heightened wildfire threat. This episode covers several topics including:

  • How Heath got started in Utility Vegetation Management

  • Advice for young professionals entering the industry

  • Strategic decisions taken to manage risk through moving funds from pruning activities into removing fall-in risk trees in high bushfire risk areas

  • NSW State regulations and legislation, and how this impacts the VM program

  • Moving from a planned cyclical maintenance regime into a predictive maintenance regime as Essential Energy’s digital asset management capability develops

  • Impacts on the 2019/ 2020 Black Summer fires on the utility, the wider community, and individuals

  • The relationship between Total Fire Ban days and network-initiated fires

  • Approaching the fire season - planning and mitigation, response during the event, and continuous improvement

This is the first Australian interview published by The UVM Podcast. If you have any feedback on the episode or suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover in future episodes, please feel free to get in contact at

Heath can be found on LinkedIN here.

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