Jay Kaplan, PSE&G transmission supervisor, oversees all vegetation management work on the 69kV system, including outside plant work across the state. This often involves removing hazards such as trees and bushes that get in the way of power lines and poles.
Jay and his team plant, on average, two trees for every one that is removed from PSE&G customers’ properties, a sustainable practice to help ensure that flora and fauna are preserved in our service area.
“We work directly with the homeowner when we plant new trees and bushes,” Jay explained. “When performing upgrade projects on private property, we ask the homeowner if they want trees that flower or something with a specific shape to replace the ones we remove.”
Interestingly, some homeowners ask Jay to plant items like palm or apple trees for them. “We try to point them away from apple trees, mainly because they require a lot of maintenance and are prone to diseases, and palm trees don’t survive in New Jersey.” While Jay and his team receive odd requests from time to time, the majority of trees requested include evergreens and low growing flowering deciduous trees, like Red Buds and Dogwoods.
“Some people prefer a screening or nice buffer for privacy, so we will plant a couple of evergreens such as eastern red cedars in those cases.”
The team has a list of “utility friendly trees” for homeowners to pick from and pays for the new trees to be planted. Just last year, his team planted 675 trees everywhere from Camden and Trenton to Newark.
Before starting at PSE&G, Jay volunteered at the New Jersey Tree Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees in New Jersey’s most urban areas where need is greatest. The foundation works with residents to plant trees and educate the public on proper tree planting techniques and the benefits of trees. After joining PSE&G, he continued his work with the foundation and has served as board president since 2018.