PE'S INTENSIFIED TREE TRIMMING INITIATIVE; AIMS TO IMPROVE SERVICE RELIABILITY
PE'S INTENSIFIED TREE TRIMMING INITIATIVE; AIMS TO IMPROVE SERVICE
PHILADELPHIA, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Tree trimming crews for Philadelphia Electric Company (NYSE: PE) (PE) are stepping up their activities this spring throughout the Delaware Valley.
PE said it expects the endeavor to result in notable improvements in service reliability to its electric customers, especially during summer storms.
Substantial wire and equipment damage caused by storms last year highlighted a rapidly escalating trend for PE in the proportion of power outages caused by trees.
In fact, 38 percent of electric outages during 1991 were tree- related, representing more than 1 million customer hours of service interruptions, double the amount from the year before.
The solution: an expanded vegetation management program in which the company will spend $17 million this year, and similar amounts during the next two years, in a major effort to cut the number and duration of tree-related power outages.
The target is a 50-percent reduction in six years.
In order not only to increase the extent of tree trimming, but also to improve trimming methods and procedures, extensive training began more than a year ago for PE's staff of professional foresters, horticulturists, and contractor personnel.
Tracy Maxwell, PE's system forester, said the vegetation management program provides a long-term, cost-effective approach to managing tree interference with PE's ability to supply reliable service.
He said PE, which must maintain more than 1 million trees growing under or adjacent to aerial lines, has the greatest density of trees per mile among utilities in the region.
"Broken trees and fallen limbs are the major cause of power outages," Maxwell said. "As trees mature, they sometimes shift from being an asset to a liability, and a weak or diseased tree can create a safety hazard to the owner and community."
But the foresters' job is far more than trimming trees. They are also charged with explaining the company's vegetation management program to customers and the community, and with providing educational assistance to property owners and municipalities on tree care and the planting of new trees.
The PE vegetation management program involves:
-- an ongoing assessment of all trees located on or near utility rights-of-way, identifying their general condition, particularly structural and physiological problems;
-- proper tree trimming based upon "natural target trimming" standards developed by the National Arborist Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, and Dr. Alex Shigo of the National Forest Service, and extensive communications with municipal and community officials and property owners;
-- removal of over mature or diseased trees in conflict with power lines, with the approval of the property owner, and a limited tree replacement program of compatible species for municipalities;
-- assistance to property owners, utilizing PE's first-of-its-kind "Plant Right" program, in the selection of the proper species of tree for planting under or near utility power lines.
"Plant Right" is one of the most complete sources of tree information for Pennsylvania. It provides comprehensive data on more than 125 species of tree suited to various planting conditions found in Pennsylvania. In several easy steps, customers can obtain a list and description of trees suited to their particular site.
Maxwell said areas targeted for trimming have been scheduled based upon a three-year study of service reliability, including the total number of tree-related interruptions, their duration, the number of customers affected, trimming history, and requests for maintenance on each distribution circuit.
The amount of trimming varies with the species of tree, its growth cycle, and its location in relation to the aerial lines to attain a three-year cycle, he added.
He said community communication efforts are critical. "We must clearly educate our customers why this program is so important and why the trimming methods are being used."
CONTACT: Michael Wood of Philadelphia Electric, 215-841-4125
(PE) CO: PHILADELPHIA ELECTRIC COMPANY IN: UTI ST: PA -- PH011 -- X459 06/15/92