FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- As Fairfield County continues to experience drought conditions, Eversource crews are working to identify trees that have been weakened by the dry weather and pose a threat to the reliability of the electric system.
“The effects of a drought on tree systems are cumulative, and the region has experienced drought conditions for two of the last three years,” said Sean Redding, manager of vegetation management for Eversource in Connecticut. “This year is expected to be the warmest on record, and the high temperatures, coupled with lack of rainfall, are affecting the trees. In order to prevent tree-related outages, our crews are working to identify signs trees are experiencing drought stress, such as early fall color and shedding of leaves and branches.”
Eversource’s tree trimming programs, which include removing hazardous trees along critical lines that serve high numbers of customers, play an important role in identifying and removing drought-stressed trees along overhead electric power lines.
“Workers have been trained to look for the general health of the tree and to be aware that the drought has exacerbated any issue the tree is already suffering from,” Redding said. “It appears more trees are failing. We have seen incidents where trees or branches fell onto power lines when the weather was nice. That’s because the root systems that anchor the trees have been compromised by the extended drought.”
In Connecticut alone, Eversource will invest $68 million this year trimming more than 4,000 miles along overhead power lines and removing hazardous trees. So far, the company has completed more than 2,300 miles of tree work. Eversource services 17,000 miles of overhead power lines in Connecticut, where trees account for more than 40 percent of all power outages.
The company’s licensed arborists work closely with the communities where work is done, notifying customers in advance of any tree work on their property and performing a visual inspection to identify hazardous trees that may not be within the company’s trim zone, but that could pose a threat to the system.