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Trees and reliability. Reliability and trees. It's a balancing act we're constantly thinking about at PPL Electric Utilities, and one we take very seriously.
We take a variety of steps to keep your service reliable. One of the most important - and visible -- actions we take throughout our system is tree trimming and removal.
It's been proven that tree contact with power lines is the leading cause of storm-related outages.
You might remember the prolonged outages in this area after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and a heavy snowstorm in October 2011. Trees were a major cause of those outages, leading us to step up our tree clearing and trimming work. Contact between a tree and a transmission line in Ohio also caused the Northeast Blackout of 2003, which left 55 million people without power.
We trim and remove trees in the rights of way along all our electric lines on a rotating basis. We also remove "hazard trees" or "danger trees" - trees near the right of way that are in poor condition and at risk of falling into the right of way, causing outages or damage to our facilities.
We understand that not everyone likes tree trimming and removal. We understand that some trees are planted as part of a landscaping plan. We recognize the beauty of trees, and we're sensitive to the attachments people form with them.
At the same time, about 3 million people in 29 counties rely on us for safe, affordable, reliable power. More than ever, we've all built our lives around reliable electric service. We count on it to power the devices that make our daily lifestyles possible.
To meet that expectation of strong reliability, PPL needs to actively trim or remove trees and other vegetation along its lines.
While we work to responsibly maintain trees along our lines, we've also recently launched a program to responsibly plant trees.
The new program, called Community Roots, will provide free trees to local parks, environmental groups and fourth-grade classes. The intent is to help beautify the areas where we all live, work and play. More info is available online at www.pplcommunityroots.com.
As part of Community Roots, we're reminding everyone that trees should always be planted away from overhead power lines or underground utility lines. Plus, tree recipients - or anybody with a digging project - should call 811 at least three business days before they dig, so any underground utility lines can be marked.
We've also posted info about safely planting and trimming trees on our website. Just visit www.pplelectric.com, and choose Reliability in the menu at the top of the page.
We know that tree trimming and removal will probably always be a cause of concern among some property owners.
But when your lights stay on during storms and bad weather, chances are that smart tree management is working for you.