Spring will soon be bursting out all over with leaves, flowers … and pollen.
While admiring the new growth, another thing worthy of admiration is how crucial tree-trimming is to the reliability of Alabama Power’s core business – delivering electricity.
While events like hurricanes and tornadoes grab the headlines when power goes out, it’s the routine, day-to-day tree-trimming that, in essence, keeps the lights on.
“Trees and limbs are one of the major causes of power outages,” said Corey Sweeney, Contract Services manager for Alabama Power. “The state of Alabama is the third-most forested state in the lower 48. Managing the vegetation on our right-of-way corridors is an effective practice to help improve our reliability.”
It’s a massive job. Alabama Power’s transmission system – from generation to substations – consists of more than 10,000 miles of corridors on more than 100,000 acres. Distribution – from substations to homes, businesses and other users – has more than 70,000 miles of corridors on more than 200,000 acres.
Alabama Power’s vegetation management program is handled by Power Delivery Contract Services. As the name implies, most of the vegetation line-clearing activities are performed using outside contractors. The scheduling and oversight of the contractors is handled by company line clearing specialists.
“All our line clearing specialists are International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborists,” Sweeney said, noting that they hold commercial pesticide applicator licenses from the state of Alabama. The majority of these employees have a natural resource-related academic degree as well. These credentials are important in assuring customers that the program is administered by professionals.
Every year, Vegetation Management interacts with about 25 percent of Alabama Power’s 1.4 million customers
While tree-trimming is essential to keeping the lights on, it does have a controversial side, and Sweeney and his crew are aware.
“As natural resource managers, we have an appreciation and respect for the trees found in the environment,” he said. “We empathize with the concerns and questions our customers have relating to the trimming and removal of trees, which is performed along our facilities. Our personnel are available to speak with customer to address any of their questions or concerns regarding our work.”
The department developed a “Right Tree Right Place” brochure to assist customers in the selection and correct planting locations of compatible trees and shrubs, Sweeney said.
Any questions related to vegetation line clearing activities can be directed to the local Power Delivery Line Clearing personnel or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.