DOWNTOWN — A trip of downstate goats took a cruise along the Chicago River Wednesday, soaking in the views on a sunny day while taking a break from their work.
The goats were tasked with clearing vegetation from underneath power lines in downstate Pekin and Peoria. They can navigate through the deep ravines that are difficult to reach for the average human or machine.
Since 2019, ComEd has enlisted more than 200 goats to help clear vegetation, ComEd officials said. The goats are able to clear 20 acres in roughly 20 days, filling their stomachs with plants while preventing potential power outages from the over-growth of the plants — and without big, fume-spewing equipment. The company has dubbed this effort #HotGoatSummer on its social media channels.
“It’s a green, safe, effective way” to provide stable energy, said Tom Ringhofer, Manager of Transmission Vegetation Management for ComEd.
The goat cruise was meant to be a fun treat for ComEd employees and Downtown passersby, while touting the company’s commitment to environmentally friendly power solutions, Ringhofer said. Other efforts include planting over 2 million milkweed seeds to help broaden monarch butterfly habitats in the state.
Kids got to meet the goats, too. Sisters Hazel and Daphne Elsberg joined the excursion – bestowing the monickers Poppy and Mr. Mustard upon two of the horned animals. They shared what they learned about the goats’ job with Block Club Chicago.
“They’re taking the place of mechanical devices,” Hazel Elsberg said. “Well, obviously, goats don’t make like steam or smoke or anything that could harm the air to start air pollution.
“So, the goats are pretty much a substitute for that and make cleaning up the plants better for the environment.”
The Elsberg’s were accompanied by babysitter Dorothy Humphrey, who appreciated learning about the sustainable work of the goats.
“I enjoyed seeing how goats work with ComEd to help the company in a very natural organic way,” Humphrey said. “Also that it prevents workers from being in harm’s way with electricity when they’re relying on animals to do what they do best.”
To the young Elsberg, the excursion was a well-earned experience for the herbivores.
“I think that they deserve it… they work hard every day, even though technically it’s good for them because they also get to eat a lot,” she said.
Check out more photos from the river cruise:
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