TREES MAJOR CAUSE OF POWER OUTAGES IN 2015
In the first half of 2015 CHELCO members experienced more outages related to falling trees and limbs than in all of 2014.
“It’s been several years since we’ve had a significant tropical storm or hurricane, and we’re certainly thankful for that,” said Vice President of Engineering Matthew Avery. “But it also means there are a lot of dead trees and limbs out there posing threats to power lines.”
Falling trees and/or limbs are responsible for more than 54 percent of CHELCO’s 2015 outages to date. Summer storms bring high winds and strong showers, which soak the ground, creating optimal conditions for falling trees and downed limbs.
“Falling trees and limbs will typically tear down and break wire(s) and often poles too,” said Vice President of Operations Donny Fugate. “It takes time, manpower and specialized equipment to change out poles and repair broken conductors.”
To lessen the damage from downed trees and limbs, CHELCO has increased its easement for most new, overhead services from 20 to 30 feet.
“The new easement allows us to clear a wider area around power lines and keep it free of hazards,” explained Avery.
Summer storms also bring lightning strikes, which are another frequent cause of outages. However, this year, lightning accounts for less than 6 percent of outages to date. But in 2014, lightning accounted for almost 21 percent.