You might spot badger-logoed trucks near your property as Foreman Brad Silver and Groundman Chaz Baguhn take to the air and to the ground to be sure the Utility Maintenance Area (UMA) around St. Croix Electric Cooperative power lines is clear.
The reason those trucks sport a badger rather than the energy ball of rural electric cooperatives is the pair is employed by Badger Unified Cooperative Services (BUCS) – a cooperative OWNED by SCEC and seven other Wisconsin rural electric cooperatives.
BUCS operates out of the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative in Fall Creek because it is centrally located among the eight member-owners, but Business Manager Debbie Smith said the organization tries to hire employees who live within 45 minutes of where they will work. Silver currently lives in St. Paul although he formerly lived in Hammond, and Baguhn is from River Falls.
Part of Silver’s job as foreman is communicating with SCEC members – although a letter is sent to members a week or so before the crew is expected to be in their area many seem surprised when they see the trimming crew, so he tries to alert property owners before trimming their trees.
“Communication is as important as the actual trimming we do,” said Silver, who has worked for the co-op since 2018. “People really appreciate it when you let them know what you’re planning to do and why, and we appreciate the feedback they give us.”
BUCS crews do different work for different cooperatives, depending on their needs. Smith said SCEC is unique in that much of the territory is developed and not as rural as other members’ areas.
Along with the annual spring/summer Right-Of-Way maintenance when they clear trees and brush within the UMA, the BUCS crew may do some special projects as requested by SCEC, such as clearing ground in areas where underground lines will be buried or cleaning up after storms.
“One of the major reasons for trimming trees on a regular basis is to keep the trees at a safe distance from powerlines,” Smith said. “This is so children playing or adults trimming a tree do not come in contact with the powerline. The trees are trimmed for everyone’s safety – members, linemen and the general public. Cooperatives are very safety conscientious regarding their employees and members.”
Members with questions or concerns about trees should contact the Operations Team via email or at 715-796-7000, Option 9.