For the first time, PGE has partnered with Healing Hooves, a leading weed control, vegetation removal and ecosystem management company, to help with vegetation management near the Oak Grove Powerhouse – part of our Westside Hydropower Project on the Clackamas River. In the past, temporary employees with weed whackers cleared the area surrounding a 7-mile-long pipeline, but this year, 200 goats spent four days grazing on the overgrown weeds.
“I have a passion for renewable energy and doing the right thing for the environment,” says Matthew Bodine, plant maintenance manager at Westside Hydro. “If I can find a more ecologically sound way of doing something that’s also cost effective and safer, that’s great.”
Utilizing goats has its benefits, including reduced safety concerns and fire risk, since gas-powered tools like weed whackers could potentially release sparks. This approach may also be more cost-effective, sustainable and efficient, allowing employees to focus on more demanding maintenance tasks.
While working for PGE, the goats stayed on-site, supervised by their shepherd Craig Madsen and his watchdog, Gigi. “We section off areas and the goats go to work doing their thing,” explained Craig. “They then take breaks to chew their cud and get back to it when they’re hungry again."
For Matthew and the team at Westside Hydro, operational efficiency and safety of the crew are of utmost importance, and hiring goats contributed to both of those goals. If this experiment is successful, we may see more goats managing vegetation near our facilities in the future.
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Goats eating overgrown vegetation by hydro pipeline
Goat eating leaves from branch
Goats being guided by their shepherd along the side of the hydro pipeline
Shepherd Craig and Bobby Socks (right), one of the named goats
Guard dog Gigi with the goats
Matthew Bodine highlighting the work the goats did on the left of the flow line