Electric Dept. implements new tree trimming plan

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Elizabethton Electric Department (EED) has taken a proactive approach to tree trimming in order to increase reliability. Instead of strictly spot trimming in places where vegetation is overgrown, EED Director Rob Toney said they are doing what is called circuit trimming.
This approach clears power lines in four or five circuits annually in order to get the department on regular trimming rotation between areas.
“Circuit trimming increases our reliability, because if we spot trim one street or a section, we still have all the other areas that could be problems down the road,” said Toney.
Covering each region should take approximately seven years, and Toney said after this, they plan to work on a five year rotation between circuit areas.
The time maintenance crews will continue to trim in what Toney called “troublesome areas” as well as responding to downed limbs following severe weather.
The cost estimate for the 2016/17 fiscal year is $870,574 to trim five circuits around the Milligan and Okolona substations.
“It’s tough to quantify fiscal savings because we’re spending about the same as what we have in the past, but we’re decreasing overtime of our time maintenance crews and increasing reliability,” said Toney.
Circuit trimming began in 2014 in Stoney Creek, and Toney said the Hampton trimming is expected to be complete by July 2016. In the past two years, he said crews have covered over 100 miles of power lines, and they have 106 miles scheduled for next year.
The strategy is to trim trees furthest from the center of the city first, so that if there are outtages, they will be closer and will be repaired more quickly, Toney explained.
Doug McFadden, right of way coordinator with the EED, said the department has received numerous calls from clients asking whether the trimmers are contracted with the EED. He said they are, and they are identifiable by their white trucks labelled W.A. Kendall & Co. or Steelbach. They usually work from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and typically inform property owners that they are trimming.
“We’re trying to reclaim the right of way to provide more dependable, reliable service to members of Elizabethton Electric,” McFadden said. “This has never been done to the scale of trimming that we’re doing; we are working from one end to the other.”
Circuits are bidded out to the most affordable contractor, so in the future, Toney said residents will see the companies ABC and Asplundh trimming as well.

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