Tree Trimming Might Help Prevent Ice Damage

Wednesday, November 29th 2006, 10:26 am
By: News On 6

The work by the power company to trim back trees might help make the Tulsa area less likely to lose power from an ice storm.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says we normally think of tree trimming as a way to reduce damage from wind, but it can pay off during an ice storm, when limbs above lines can fall and cut the power when you really need it for heat.

Even in the cold and rain, the tree trimming continues. AEP-PSO is working towards a goal of clearing every tree limb from every power line every four years. AEP-PSO spokesperson Stan Whiteford: “what we've done to help clear out lines to protect them from trees should go a long way towards reducing the damage from a winter storm.”

There have been worse ice storms outside the city, but in Tulsa - the 1987 storm at Christmas set records for damage to power lines. The ice not only weighted down trees and toppled them onto the lines - the ice accumulated on the lines so much they were pulled down from the poles.

The damage left some people without power for ten days. If it happens again, PSO thinks the system is in much better shape. “If the weather gets bad, the work we've done should help mitigate the negative effects.”

In the last two years, AEP-PSO has cleared trees from 82 complete circuits. That's 3,400 miles of power lines - a lot - but just a fraction of the 21,000 miles of lines the power company uses statewide.

Tree trimming work will continue through the winter, even though limbs aren't the only threat to power lines this time of year. The weight of the ice is a burden on the lines, but ice with wind is even worse.

For now - the power company is checking out outside crews who can be ready to repair major damage should it occur - while hoping their long term work to reduce the damage - pays off.

AEP-PSO started more aggressively trimming trees two years ago and the reliability of the system has increased during that time, so the company is certain it will make a difference this winter.