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PSE saves power lines
ISSAQUAHIn the past several months, wind and rain storms have
left some Valley cities flooded and without power. Though it's hard to
dictate when and where the flood waters will go, Puget Sound Energy is working
at reducing a factor they can partially control the amount of outages
in the area.
The company launched its $43 million Tree Watch program last
year. The program involves cooperation between the utility and the
community to keep trees away from overhead power lines. Since its initiation,
workers said they have seen about 30 percent fewer outages.
"We remove trees that are at risk of falling," said Beth Rogers,
PSE's reliability program manager. "We look for trees that look like they are
diseased or dying."
"These rotted trees decide that when it's time to break, it's time
to break," she added.
Rogers described the Tree Watch program as the "largest hazardous
tree removal" project in the United States, in large part due to the unusually
tall and fast-growing trees in Washington.
According to a 1997 study, more than half of tree-related power
outages were blamed on hazardous trees that grew outside of the normal
12-foot utility right-of-way. So, crews scan properties along the power line
corridor and tag potentially dangerous trees with a bright orange tie. Once the
trees are marked, PSE members approach the property owner and ask if the
tree could be taken down as a safety precaution.
If the owner agrees, contractors carefully topple the tree and treat
the stump to prohibit any re-growth. PSE then supplies the owner with a
landscape certificate encouraging the planting of power-line-friendly
The Valley has already been a recipient of the five-year project that
is expected to cover about 1,000 miles of power lines each year. Trees
along Southeast Mill Pond Road, Reinig Road and North Fork Road
in Snoqualmie were trimmed and removed within the past nine months.
Rogers said there is more to come.
"Over the next four years the Snoqualmie Valley will be a
target area," she commented, adding the project is being fully funded by
the company, so customers won't pay anything for this additional service.
PSE predicts that the money it saves from sending emergency crews to
downed power lines will easily cover the Tree Watch project.
For more information about PSE's Tree Watch program, call
1-888-225-5773, select option 4 and enter the Tree Watch six-digit extension, 895148.