EXTENSION CONNECTION: Storm season comes with tree trimmings

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 05:12 PM.

Tree trimming around power lines may seem like a local issue, but vegetation growth also affects interstate transmission lines.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that electric utility service interruptions annually cost businesses and communities tens of billions of dollars. Tree contact with transmission lines was the leading cause of the August 2003 blackout that affected 50 million people in the Northeastern United States and Canada.

That particular blackout prompted Congress to pass the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which led the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to establish the Vegetation Management Reliability Standard.

If Northwest Florida experiences a storm, remember that tree and branch clearing provides faster access for first responders, line repair crews and other emergency service personnel.

As you watch preparation work in progress, think about where you will plant a tree. Ensure it can reach full maturity without threatening power lines — which would require "ugly pruning."

Sheila Dunning is a Commercial Horticulture Extension agent at the Okaloosa County Extension office in Crestview.

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