Aboriculture consulting

Homeowners | Utilities | Municipalities
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Utility specialist

  • Vegetation management, environmental assessment and wetland delineation.
  • Distribution and transmission vegetation management; system-wide grounds maintenance, substation bare-ground program; wood-pole inspection and maintenance.
  • Management of cyclic distribution line clearance activities for approximately 900 line clearance tree contractors’ employees.
  • Experienced  in contracting methods and contracting issues, as well as extensive experience with the labor and safety issues associated with line clearance tree trimming.
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Professional certification

  • International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Arborist IL 0594A
  • International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Utility Specialists IL 0594U
  • Certified Tree Growth Regulator Applicator
  • New Jersey Certified Tree Expert License (No. 209)
  • International Society of Arboriculture, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ)
  • Florida Pesticide Applicator License
  • Project Management Training: Construction Industry Cooperative Alliance, Clemson University
Ed Cunningham

Ed Cunningham

Consulting forester

Tree Priorities consulting forester Ed Cunningham has more than 40 years of experience in vegetation management with significant investor owned utilities in New Jersey and in northern Illinois. He has extensive experience managing both Transmission and Distribution vegetation management programs. He has managed numerous vegetation management program/process assessments, including a comprehensive vegetation management workload and program assessment and recommendations for an international utility headquartered in the United Kingdom.

He is an ISA Certified Arborist and Utility Arborist Specialist with expertise in private and corporate consulting and project management. In 2016, Ed launched Tree Priorities LLC, a Key West, FL-based company offering project management consulting services for utilities and municipalities. He is a board member of the Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden of Key West.

Ed has a B.S. and M.S. in Forestry from West Virginia University and holds Certified Arborist and Utility Arborist certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.).

He began his career with the U.S. Forest Service and Jersey Central Power & Light. He spent 17 years with Commonwealth Edison, an Exelon company in Chicago, IL, before moving to ECI Environmental Consultants Inc., in Wisconsin. In 2016, he launched Tree Priorities as an adjunct to his position as a park ranger at Florida state park, Fort Zachary Taylor.

Ed is a full-time Key West resident with experience in tropical and forest management planning for municipalities and utilities and woodland management for homeowners

Learn more about our experience

ECI | Environmental Consultants Inc.

ECI | ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS, INC., Stoughton, Wisconsin           August 2008 to October 2016 

 Regional Account Manager (January 2014 to October 2016, retired) Responsible for ECI’s three key, Strategic Customers in the South-Eastern USA Region for ECI. Manage projects, personnel and maximize business development opportunities within the region at these accounts. Assist with implementation of consulting projects, project scope evolvement and develop customer relations. Assist with consulting projects, litigation support, research and special studies as account management responsibilities allow.

Senior Project Manager (January 2013 to December 2013, early retirement) Responsible for ECI’s turnkey vegetation management services at electric cooperatives. Manage projects within ECI’s Consulting Services business unit including distribution line clearance studies, wood pole management plans, transmission ROW studies, gas pipeline assessment, training services, practical research projects, litigation support and special studies.

 Director, Consulting Services (August 2008 to December 2012) Responsible for oversight and direction of the ECI’s consulting services business unit including distribution line clearance studies, transmission ROW studies, gas pipeline assessment and mapping, training services, practical research projects, litigation support and special studies.

Comonwealth Edison, an Exelon company

COMMONWEALTH EDISON COMPANY, Chicago, Illinois

Transmission Project Lead (2004 to August 2008) Transmission Project Lead for ComEd, An Exelon Company, and a large mid-west investor owned utility. As Project Lead, his job responsibilities included management of all transmission vegetation management programs, establishing short and long term goals, budget management, oversight of all contract line clearance crews on the transmission system, and maintaining monthly performance indicators of work completed against budget and performance goals.

Manager Distribution Maintenance (November 1991 to 2004) Mr. Cunningham was also responsible for the system wide substation weed control program. Prior to assuming the responsibility for transmission vegetation management, Mr. Cunningham was the Manager of ComEd Distribution Maintenance. This included the budgeting, scheduling and preparation of monthly performance indicators associated with the management of all cyclic distribution line clearance activities for approximately 900 line clearance tree contractors’ employees. Mr. Cunningham has a wide depth of experience related to contracting methods and contracting issues, as well as extensive experience with the labor and safety issues associated with line clearance tree trimming.

Under his leadership, ComEd was the recipient of the Project Habitat award for “Best Right-of-way Management Practices” for an investor owned utility in 2007 and the National Arbor Day “Tree Line USA Utility” Award each year during his tenure at ComEd.

Jersey Central Power & Light

JERSEY CENTRAL POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY, Morristown, New Jersey                        

System Forester (1976 – 1991) Mr. Cunningham directed all vegetation management programs for JCP&L serving in various capacities associated with vegetation management, environmental assessment, and wetland delineation. This included the budgeting, scheduling and preparation of monthly performance indicators associated with distribution and transmission vegetation management as well as management of system-wide grounds maintenance, substation bare-ground program and wood-pole inspection and maintenance.

Other (1985- 1991) Independent Consulting Forester – prepared forest management plans and worked with landowner in the implementation of these plans.

U.S. Forest Service, Panhandle National Forest, Wallace, ID (1976)

Professional affiliations
  • International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and Florida Chapter ISA
  • Utility Arborist Association (UAA), Education and Training Committee member
  • Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden of Key West, Board of Directors
  • Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, former Board of Directors
  • Illinois Arborist Association, former Board of Directors
  • 8th and 9th Environmental Concerns in Rights-of-Way Management International Symposium Steering Committee
  • Mountain Lake Vegetation Management Council, Director and Treasurer for 8 years
Publications and presentations

Cunningham, E.L. 1976. Thesis: Effects of Power Line Clearance and Maintenance on Vigor of Adjacent Stand and Composition of Bordering Understory’s. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.147pp.

  • Cunningham, E.L. 1979. Computer Program for Utility Forestry Activities. Journal of Arboriculture 5(5):113-115.
  • Cunningham, E.L. 1987. Firm Price Tree Trimming at Jersey Central Power and Light. Journal of Arboriculture 13(12):299-303.
  • Cunningham, E.L. 1992. Work Measurement System. Journal of Arboriculture 18(1):43-44.
  • Cunningham, E.L., J. Goodfellow, J. Skogg.2009. Utility Vegetation Management – Use of Reliability Centered Maintenance Concepts to Improve Performance. Technical Report. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: EPRI (11/30/2009) 1019417
  • Cunningham, E.L. 2009. 30 Years of ECI’s Vegetation Management Research: From the Well Know to the Unknown. 9th International Symposium on Environmental Concerns in Rights-of-Way Management, September 27-30, 2009, Portland, Oregon
  • Cunningham, E.L. 2010. The Impact of Vegetation on Restoration: Before, During and After the Storm. 5th Annual Summit on Emergency Preparedness and Service Restoration for Utilities. New Orleans, LA.
  • Cunningham, E.L. 2010. EPRI Invasive Plant Species Workshop Report. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: EPRI (2010) 101987
  • Cunningham, E.L. 2011. Technology Review on Best Practices for a Risk-Based Approach to Vegetation Management. CEATI International, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2011) TLAM PI10.01
  • Cunningham, E.L. 2012. Review of Best Practices for a Risk-Based Approach to Integrated Vegetation management on Distribution Lines. CEATI International, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2012) DALCM IFP11.06
Expert witness cases
  1. Connecticut Light and Power, expert witness on personal injury case, Law Firm of Carmody & Torrance, LLP, attorney Brian Henebry
  1. New York State Electric and Gas (Iberdrola), expert testimony for rate case before the N.Y. Public Service Commission Staff.
  1. Unitil, expert testimony for rate case before the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Massachusetts Public Service Commission. Law Firm of Kegan & Werlin, LLP, attorney Cheryl Kimball, Boston, MA.
  1. AEP, Ohio, expert witness on a personal injury case, Law Firm of Day Ketterer, LLP, attorney James Blake.
Education and professional certifications

M.S.F. – Forest Management, West Virginia University

B.S. – Wood Industries, West Virginia University

  • International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Arborist IL 0594A
  • International Society of Arboriculture, Certified Utility Specialists IL 0594U
  • Certified Tree Growth Regulator Applicator
  • New Jersey Certified Tree Expert License (No. 209)
  • International Society of Arboriculture, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ)
  • Florida Pesticide Applicator License
  • Project Management Training: Construction Industry Cooperative Alliance, Clemson University