Trim a tree to keep the lights on. It might not be that simple, but it’s part of the solution the Public Service Commission is considering as it write new rules for electricity reliability.
Electricity reliability has become a concern for the PSC. PSC Chairman Jeff Davis says the concern grew after the massive power outages last year. Thunderstorms as well as ice storms left hundreds of thousands of Missouri residents without electricity, some for days. Davis says a lot of attention has gone into the trees growing along power lines. Ice storms and strong winds break off branches that can snap power lines. Trimming them back is a solution proposed by the PSC staff, trimming them way back. Utilities, though, say it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with rules proposed by the PSC staff. They have other concerns that they have shared during a public hearing before Public Service Commissioners.
Davis says the commissioners are listening. A cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to determine how best to improve reliability. Davis says he doesn’t want to approve increases in electric rates if that can’t promise a substantial increase in reliability.
The PSC staff has also proposed rules to make sure Missouri’s electric infrastructure is adequate to meet the state’s growing demand for power.