Fifty percent of Hartselle’s storm-related outages are caused by trees and limbs falling across the lines, says Electric Superintendent Jonathan Hampton. “And over eighty percent of our non-weather related outages are caused by squirrels,” he adds.
To minimize damages from both, Hartselle Utilities has a system-wide plan to monitor and trim trees and remove brush within ten feet of power lines, says Hampton. “We’ve got to trim the trees – even if you don’t mind it potentially affecting your power, your tree might affect 300 more people,” he explains.
In June the Hartselle Utilities Board approved the Electric Department’s Line Clearing Schedule for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins in July. Throughout the next year, HU crews and contractors will be working in the Southwest quadrant of the city, west of Hwy. 31 and south of Nance Ford Road. They will place notices on doorknobs to let customers know that they will be in an area.
If you receive a notice – a bright orange door hanger from Hartselle Utilities – and have trees on your property near electric lines, it is likely the trees will be trimmed or removed. To understand the work intended for your property, call (256) 773-3340.
Planning can minimize the need for tree trimming, according to the National Arbor Day Foundation. Within 30 feet of power lines, only plant trees with a mature height of less than 20 feet tall. Flowering dogwoods and crabapple trees, for example, won’t get tall enough to interfere with Hartselle Utilities’ power lines.
In addition to the 30-foot perimeter for shorter trees, trees with a mature height of over 40 feet
should be planted at least 60 feet away from power lines, according to National Arbor Day Foundation guidelines. This will minimize damage to power lines from trees knocked down during bad weather.
In addition to causing outages, trees near power lines can pose safety hazards. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:
- If a tree branch breaks off and lands on an electric line, call Hartselle Utilities immediately at (256) 773-2533.
- Do not touch the branch or wire.
- Don’t cut down trees or branches near power lines.
- Stay clear of power lines when removing any object caught in a tree.
- Never let your ladder touch a power line.
- Power lines are not insulated. If you touch a power line, you will be severely injured or killed. Always assume a power line is energized and dangerous.
- Make sure children do not climb trees that are anywhere near overhead power lines.
- Before planting or digging projects, always call call Alabama One Call toll free (7 am – 5 pm): 811 or 1-800-292-8525 for free help in identifying underground pipes or lines.