WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Just like Muhammad Ali once said you “can’t hit what your eyes can’t see," the same can be said for Hurricanes and trees. Hurricanes can’t hit what's not there.
After many trees and tree limbs caused havoc on Westchester power lines last year during Hurricane Sandy, county providers Con Edison and NYSEG are grooming trees before any of this year’s storms get the chance to do so.
“In April 2013, we began a ‘hazard tree’ program,” Con Edison Spokesman Chris Olert said. “Hazard trees are those that are tall enough to contact the overhead distribution system and are also dead, declining, diseased or otherwise structurally unsound.”
Olert said since all tree removals require written landowner authorization, the company works closely with the landowners to find agreeable solutions. In addition to our tree trimming efforts, Con Edison has also completed substantial storm-hardening work in time for this year’s hurricane season, he said.
NYSEG Corporate Communications Manager Clayton Ellis said his company has taken a similar approach. He said trees that make hard contact with power lines, depending on the line voltage and line type (communication lines, primary power lines and secondary lines) can pose a safety hazard and/or interruption of electricity service.
“In 2013, we proactively maintained several hundred miles of overhead primary line in our Brewster Division, which includes northern Westchester County,” he said. “The work there was part of our routine maintenance program. The proactive measures are implemented to increase reliability under normal operating conditions as well as improving storm resiliency.”
Both Ellis and Olert said tree trimming is necessary whenever there is the potential that the tree poses a threat to interfere overhead systems.
“Trees can cause our overhead electric lines to fall and our greatest concern is for the safety of the public,” Olert said. “It is important that everyone recognizes that any downed power line should be treated as live or energized.”
Ellis said NYSEG’s vegetation management program “targets all vegetation under and adjacent to primary overhead power lines.”
North Salem Town Supervisor Warren Lucas said he’s seen a significant difference in the approach of tree trimming within the last year. North Salem is one of several northern Westchester towns who tend to be more vulnerable than others in regards to power outages during storms.
“NYSEG has done extensive pruning and removal of trees on many of our road. They have done an excellent job working with the Town and its citizens,” he said. “While we are all hoping that there will be no hurricanes this year, we are very well prepared with the work that they’ve done.”
Both providers encourage customers to report any area of concern, particularly limbs or trees on power lines, by calling NYSEG at 1.800.572.1111 and Con Edison at 1-800-75CONED.