In September, a dangerous wildfire was ignited at Harvey Mitchell Parkway and State Highway 6 when high winds snapped the trunk of a hollow tree and it fell into a power line. The tree was still green and offered no indication that it would create a dangerous situation. After a summer of extreme drought, the blaze spread quickly and threatened nearby neighborhoods and businesses. If not for the rapid response of the College Station Fire Department and others, the situation could have been grim.
Fires caused by discarded cigarette, outdoor burning, cars, barbeque pits and other sources caused tremendous havoc across Texas in 2011, and will continue to be a threat until the drought ends.
Drought Has Increased Danger
With drought conditions persisting, the need for trees to be trimmed or removed will continue to increase. Like all electric utilities, College Station Utilities actively maintains its rights-of-way. Still, isolated cases of objects contacting power lines are always a threat. CSU’s tree-trimming maintenance program clears trees away from its power lines on a three-year cycle, which takes care of normal trimming needs within the city’s easement.
But what about all those distressed trees outside the easement?
Helping Property Owners
Since the early 1980s, CSU has had a proactive plan to help local property owners safely remove trees by helping to determine if the tree poses a potential danger to a power line. When safety issues are present, CSU will trim the tree top to ensure its safe removal by the customer’s tree service. In addition, overhead electric services to customer’s homes temporarily can be removed to make tree removal safer and easier. CSU usually performs this service at no charge as long as it’s scheduled during normal working hours, but overtime charges may apply for after-hours or weekend removal.
It’s important to remember that not all power lines belong to CSU, and not all overhead lines are electric lines. Some belong to cable or phone companies, or even other utilities.
Don’t Do it Yourself!
If you see a tree, branch or other object threatening a power line, don’t try to remove it yourself. Report the issue to CSU at 979.764.3638.
Assistant Director| Electric Services