Power over the environment?
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/05/2012 -- Winds are believed to gain strength to sweep trees off their roots with the presence of Hurricane Sandy. Power lines are expected to be torn down with the falling trees.
Power providers have set their sights on surrounding trees on the heels of previous storms. Environmentalists state some utility companies have taken one step too many in flora and fauna management. The environmentalists believe those imposing timbers to be imperative to the environment and with Hurricane Sandy setting fuel to the debate.
Utility companies are not against having trees near their power lines, yet they have research that massive trees coverage causes more outages stated by Seth Guikema, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, who has studied the common occurrences between hurricanes and power outages for seven years.
A North Carolina town had laws that restricted tree trimming and removals. Guikema cited these residents of a North Carolina town, who were willing to compromise with numerous power outages to preserve their tree cover.
Abigail Hopper, the energy adviser to Gov. Martin O'Malley, and acting director of the Maryland Energy Administration, said that residents are unreasonable as they do not want their trees to be cut down yet they get upset when they lose their power due to a tree falling into a power wire.
“There is a little bit of a disconnect sometimes,” said Hopper, who revealed of having this guilty mindset.
Pepco and Baltimore Gas and Electric attempts to correct this divide through personalized education. In fact, both Pepco and Baltimore Gas and Electric states that before they take action, they peruse each tree without exception.
“We really do try to personalize the effort,” said Robert Gould, a spokesman for BGE. “(We) work one-on-one with the customers, explain to them the individual situation that we see, and how they would benefit from aggressive tree trimming or pruning, or removal.
Dan Landry, senior staff forester for Pepco Holdings Inc., said that Pepco has a four-year plan for tree elimination through the method of seeing how trees will grow over the next four years. He included that Pepco Holdings Inc. utilize a certified arborist to consider how to remove the trees.
Guikema states that for a company to be more decisive about what trees they take down, a four-year plan is necessary.
Caren Madsen, chairwoman of the Conservation Montgomery Board of Directors, speaks out that Pepco has not utilize sound vegetation removal.
Madsen argues that Pepco, more often than not, falsely blames trees for outages. Her example she gave is on a windless, sunny, daytime power outages, when a downed tree is unlikely to be the cause.
In fact, when electric providers set their sight on a tree off the right of way, they must discuss with the homeowner.
There has been a report titled “Weathering the Storm: Report of the Grid Resiliency Taskforce” that was released by the governor's office of where improvements can be included to the electric grid. Within this report of 11 recommendations, it calls for an “evaluation statewide vegetation management regulations and practices.”
Hopper said the job of the task force is to educate citizens of regulatory challenges. She hopefully believes foresters, meteorologists, utility companies, and members of the community to come together and discuss on how to leave the power on during storms.
“The answer may be – well, cutting limbs is not the best way – maybe the best way is some other idea we have not thought of yet,” said Hooper. “But I think we need to have the conservation.
Despite many people preferring to have wires set underground, calculations from BGE states that there will be a substantial increase in power rates.
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