Be prepared to see a lot more tree trimming coming after the holidays: The Tri-Town area is due for another round of serious trimming in 2018, according to Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross.
Trimming trees is a non-stop preventative task for regional electrical utility Eversource. When a storm blast hits Connecticut–such as the one that blew in on Oct. 29–all of that work can still result in trees hitting electrical lines and leaving us all in the dark.
According to Gross, the outages were not as severe as they could have been because of the year-round efforts to maintain the integrity of 17,000 miles of electrical lines in Connecticut alone. Annually, Eversource oversees the trimming of about one-quarter of those 17,000 miles of trees.
Chester, Deep River, and Essex are just three of the 149 towns that the electricity service provider maintains. Chester last had 40 miles of trees trimmed in 2014. Deep River had 27 miles, and Essex had 32 miles trimmed in 2014-2015. That means all three towns will see more tree trimmers along the roads in 2018.
While Eversource works all year with the tree wardens in each town and the tree-trimming contractors it uses to assist, it tries to cycle the heaviest trimming to a four-year schedule.
“Trees are the number one cause of power outages,” notes Gross. “Connecticut is one of the most forested states in the country.”
Gross adds that Eversource is increasingly hearing from customers who want more trimming done as residents are seeing the benefits of keeping the trees cut back.
Eversource has its team of arborists who work with the tree wardens and the crews. It also brings in helicopters using infrared technology to identify potential trouble spots and where systems should be upgraded.
Sometimes assistance comes from out of state. After Hurricane Irma hit Florida in September, Eversource sent crews down to assist, and Florida Light and Power was happy to reciprocate the favor when the windstorm hit New England.
More than 200 crews from Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, and New York came to assist with the repairs from the severe winds that knocked out power in the Connecticut River Valley and greater New England.
Following Hurricane Sandy, Eversource began working with the University of Connecticut and other utility providers and agencies on a program called Stormwise. The goal is to develop a forest vegetation management program with the goal of reducing the risk of tree-related storm damage to power lines and implement proper long-term management practices in woodlands along utility corridors that will create healthy, storm-resistant, and aesthetically pleasing trees and forest stands.
Stormwise is not currently being implemented in the Tri-Town area, but the management practices being learned in the program will have an impact on how the local wooded areas are maintained.