October is National Co-op Month and I applaud both our employees and members for all the ways you have adapted to change. Seven months ago, we never used the word COVID and now this five-letter word has dramatically changed our lives. However, our 115 employees continue to work hard to make sure your lights are on during this trying time. While COVID restricted some of our construction activity, we shifted attention to planning efforts to allow our cooperative to continue making positive progress.
One of our key goals is providing reliable service to our members. One factor that truly makes the U.P. beautiful also hinders reliability: trees. In July, we commissioned a study to review our vegetation management program, which currently covers 88 circuits over a seven-year period to trim trees along our 4,000 miles of power lines. The study will provide Cloverland with best practices for a successful program and determine program costs that allow for greater budget control. We expect this study to be completed by October.
Another item we are reviewing is the use of technology to better respond to outages. Cloverland purchased a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system a few years ago that is not fully optimized yet. We retained a consultant with the expertise to fully implement the system for an in-depth analysis of our electric grid in real-time.
One of Cloverland’s greatest assets is our hydroelectric plant. This iconic facility has been operational for nearly 120 years and continues to bring Cloverland members value through one of the lowest per kWh rates in Michigan. Cloverland periodically performs an assessment of the hydro plant to determine necessary improvements. Our previous facility audit is outdated so the board of directors authorized staff to perform an assessment in 2020. We commissioned the study in July, and it is scheduled to be complete by year-end. This study will help staff better budget capital improvements to provide a long- term impact.
Together, these three studies will help us better understand the financial needs necessary to continually improve our infrastructure. It also informs our decisions with up-to-date data so we can plan and budget accordingly. It’s all part of fulfilling our mission to provide you, our members, with safe, reliable, and affordable energy.