Trimming back for when it snows

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 01:24 PM

For customers of the High Point municipal power grid who didn’t lose electricity during the snowstorm, or experienced only a short outage, it may be the best $600,000 the city spends each year.

That’s how much the city Electric Utilities Department devotes to year-round trimming of tree limbs and branches along hundreds of miles of power line corridors across High Point. City Electric Operations Engineer Larry Hopkins said power outages Thursday night and early Friday morning weren’t as extensive or prolonged because trees next to utility lines were cut back.
Approximately 200 customers at a time were without power Thursday night and early Friday morning, and the city didn’t endure large, extensive outages, Hopkins told The High Point Enterprise. Without the regular trimming of limbs and branches near lines, the outages from the snowstorm would have been more extensive, he said.
“As we can keep limbs away from our lines, it helps when large pieces of a tree come down,” he said. “It might not necessarily help when the entire tree comes down. But main thing we are trying to do is keep the overhanging limbs cut back so we don’t have issues.”
Throughout the year, tree-trimming crews from a private company, which contracts with the city, traverse High Point trimming limbs and branches.
“We try to trim everything on about a 4- or 5-year-cycle. Also, as we spot trees that could become issues, we do spot trimming in particular areas,” Hopkins said.
The city has legal authority to trim trees along a power line easement. But as a courtesy, crews try to inform property owners about tree trimming before going into neighborhoods. 
“Most of the time people are fairly cooperative. We are trying to take what we have to and not butcher the tree,” he said.
Another result of the tree trimming — the city Electric Utilities Department hasn’t had extensive, overnight power outages since a tornado struck parts of north High Point in March 2010, Hopkins said. | 888-3528

The city of High Point Electric Utilities Department maintains about 420 miles of overhead distribution lines and approximately 40 miles of overhead, main transmission lines. The city also has about 320 miles of underground distribution lines and corridors.