When we think about service reliability, extreme weather conditions and increasing demand have taken center stage. However, electric cooperatives and their contractors work to keep electric lines and other equipment functioning at peak performance year-round. Keeping co-op lines separated from plant overgrowth plays a major role in service reliability.
Oklahoma’s electric co-ops regularly inspect and manage the landscape in and around their equipment. This work helps prevent outages, minimize the threat of fire damage and maintain access and serviceability. According to industry research, about 20% to 30% of all power outages are vegetation related. Removal of tall trees and limbs near power lines also reduces the risks of injuries from accidental contacts with energized power lines.
While some of the work might be done with brush hogs, mowers and chain saws, electric co-ops also rely heavily upon planning, seeding and strategic plantings, often supported by their consumer-members and other stakeholders.
Trees, however, are not always problematic. Protecting and shading your home with trees can be positive for you and your co-op. Creating windbreaks is also beneficial in Oklahoma’s climate. According to the Department of Energy, a well-shaded home can reduce air conditioning costs overall by 10-15%. I encourage you to “Call OKIE” before you dig and to “look up” to know where your power lines are located.
When planting trees, it’s important to follow guidelines recommended by your rural electric co-op. With good planning and partnership with your co-op, you will be on your way to a landscape that benefits your efficiency and your reliability.