September Co-op Power Magazine Article
I recently had a request to meet with an SBEC member on his property to talk about our Vegetation Management program. I’ll be honest, this member was not happy at all. However, he was very cordial and expressed his concerns while I was addressing his questions. After visiting with him, it was very apparent that I needed to communicate the goals of our Vegetation Management for SBEC’s right-of-ways.
If you have been following my column, you know that I appreciate the beauty of trees as much as the rest of you. I left the Panhandle of Texas mainly because of the lush foliage I encountered while interviewing for a job at SBEC some 30-plus years ago. But, trees and electrical distribution systems will always be at odds when the trees grow into and are adjacent to our right-of-ways. It is always a daunting task to keep our right-of-ways clear in order to have reliable power for our membership.
This task has been heavily taxed this year. Between the drought of the last two years and the 2011 Labor Day fires in Colorado and Waller counties, we’ve seen an astronomical increase in the number of dead trees. In fact we have removed more dead trees OUTSIDE, but adjacent to our right-of-way, than we did the entire year of 2011. While we take down these trees so that they don’t fall into our power lines, we don’t have the means to remove the debris from the location. We are sorry but we simply don’t have the means or the storage area for the debris. We will cut the trees into manageable lengths so the landowner can handle it.
If you have called in to have a tree removed—you’ll have to be patient. We have more than 300 open service orders and we take them in the order in which they were received. The only deviation from this procedure will be when there is apparent danger to property or life. We get several calls a week from our members who think that we’ve forgotten about them. Believe me - we will get to you as soon as possible. I asked your Board of Directors to allow me to exceed our 2012 budget by $400,000.00 just to address the need of getting to these dead trees.
It’s just not dead trees we monitor. SBEC examines which part of our system has had the most service interruptions caused by vegetation. Utilizing this information, we instruct one of several R-O-W contractors to systematically remove all vegetation within our prescribed rights. We do this not only for reliability but for safety as well. During last year’s drought conditions, several wild fires throughout the state (and in other states) were caused by vegetation contact to the overhead electrical lines. So, when we or our contractors work around your homes and neighborhoods please keep in mind that we are only trying to improve safety and reliability.
If you have any questions concerning our program, please don’t hesitate to call either me or Greg Giebel, our Vegetation Control Supervisor.
Until next time, take care!