17:23 PM

Perspective: Safe at a Distance

In the electric utility industry, it’s not unusual to read headlines like these from around the country:

“Raccoons cause weekend power outage”

“Snake causes widespread power outage”

And, “Squirrel knocks out power to thousands”

You may wonder how such a small animal can cause so much disruption. Squirrels are well known for causing power outages. There’s even a website that tracks news stories of confirmed squirrel-induced outages.

But, here’s the reality: Squirrels (and other critters) aren’t our number one cause of power outages. Instead, tree limbs and fallen trees on power lines cause far more service interruptions than all the snakes, raccoons and squirrels that unfortunately cross paths with power lines or equipment.

At Jackson EMC, safety and reliability go hand in hand. One of the primary roles of our Tree Maintenance Program is protecting the public. We all know that trees and power lines don’t mix. Anytime a tree comes in contact with a power line, it creates a dangerous situation. In order to protect our power lines and equipment, we have a robust Tree Maintenance Program that helps reduce hazards and service interruptions.

Our Tree Maintenance Program makes a big difference when storms threaten to topple trees or cause limbs to fall on power lines. We have a large number of crews who work year-round to trim trees and limbs in the path of our power lines. Jackson EMC uses contractors who specialize in standardized tree trimming techniques. These professionals are supervised by Jackson EMC personnel to help keep our 14,000-plus miles of power lines free from trees and vegetation.

Clearing these paths from the threat of fallen trees, limbs or from vegetation growth also helps control service costs to our members. If a storm causes a tree or limbs to fall on power lines, the cost to untangle these lines is much higher and takes more time to restore power. In such cases, I’m asked why we don’t bury all power lines underground. The truth is the cost would simply be prohibitively high for our cooperative.

While we’re talking about trees near power lines, I want to remind you to be aware of your surroundings. If you notice a tree growing into lines, please contact us. Don’t try to cut the tree yourself. Trees are good conductors of electricity, so once it starts touching a power line, power can travel through it and create a hazard.

We can’t control Mother Nature (or her squirrels), but intentionally keeping a distance between power lines and trees helps improve safety and reduce the possibility of service interruptions for our members.

Have a question about our Tree Maintenance Program? Email me at [email protected].