The elements can bring down power lines any time of the year, but some of the major problem times involving trees and power lines occur in the summer during thunderstorms and in the winter during snow and ice storms. Missouri’s electric utilities are at work, year-round, to trim trees to try to cut down on the possibility of electricity outages that might come with the next storm.
Richard Shenk, Managing Supervisor of Vegetation for AmerenUE – the state’s largest electric utility – wants homeowners to think about the trees they are growing on their property because trees that are expected to grow to great heights can eventually cause problems.
“There are some conflicts there,” said Shenk in an interview with the Missourinet. “That’s really why, long term, we’re trying to promote the right tree selection when they’re thinking about planting a tree so we don’t have that issue, you know, 10, 15, 20 years down the road.”
Ameren and other companies encourage people to plant smaller tress if the trees are being planted anywhere near power lines.
“Trees are one of our major causes of outages – storm situations,” said Shenk. “For the most part, people plant trees, and they’re eight feet tall, and sometimes they don’t fully realize how big they can get.”
Homeowners are advised to trim their trees to keep the branches away from power lines.
“You want to follow the general guidelines of when you prune a tree that you do what we call directional pruning,” said Shenk. “You’re basically trying to direct the tree away from, in our case, the power lines.”
The good news for neighbors who don’t want the lights to go out is that utility companies have the right to trim trees that get dangerously close to the lines.
“Typically, when a line was installed, and sometimes this can go back of course many years, we obtained what we call an easement,” said Shenk. “That easement, typically, gives us the right to operate and maintain wires and tree trimming is certainly a part of that.”
AmerenUE provides information on tree trimming through a program known as Project Power On.