Worried about storm power outages?

Wind with drenching rains can create hazardous trees. Photo: DNR

Recent blasts of wind in Washington helps us appreciate the work of local utilities. They help our homes stay warm and toasty and keep the lights on during these darkening days of December.

Yet, as our annual storm season once again rolls in, it becomes more challenging to ensure the reliability of the power grid.

Storms bring high winds, high winds can bring down trees, and trees can bring down powerlines (like dominoes gone wrong).

Utility companies play a lead role in the prevention of power outages, but they can’t do it alone. We have three ideas on how you can help.

As responsible citizens, we need to monitor our trees for potential conflicts with powerlines and report any issues to the local utility…preferably before the next storm strikes.

Also, the best way to prevent future tree-related outages is by planting the right tree in the right place. Avoid planting a tree that will grow high enough to get into nearby powerlines as it matures.

By planting smaller trees, or by planting larger trees a safe distance away from powerlines, we can prevent problems before they happen. This practice can also reduce or eliminate the need to prune trees, and reduces you chance of a power outage.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program recognizes utilities in Washington who have committed to healthy tree care and maintenance, tree worker training programs, and community tree planting – including ways to reduce issues between trees and powerline. The Tree Line USA Program provides many benefits to electric utility providers and the communities they serve. It’s an Arbor Day Foundation Program that recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture.

There are 11 recognized Tree Line USA Utilities in Washington:

  • Avista Utilities
  • Benton County PUD
  • Benton REA
  • Chelan County PUD #1
  • Clark County PUD
  • Pacificorp
  • Puget Sound Energy
  • Richland Energy Services
  • Seattle City Light
  • Snohomish County PUD No. 1
  • Tacoma Power

Since it’s better to be safe (and warm) than sorry, do these three things to show your appreciation for both the twinkle of outdoor holiday lights and the equally lovely trees they rest on. Take a moment to check for tree/powerline conflicts where you live, and contact your local utility if necessary. Plant the right tree in the right place. And, encourage, or congratulate, your utility provider’s participation in the Tree Line USA Program.

For more information, visit the Arbor Day website or DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.