Drought conditions in recent years have caused an increase in tree mortality, which increases the chance of a tree or limb falling on electric lines and disrupting service. In response, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative’s right-of-way department has been working proactively with contractors and landowners to ensure the integrity of our electrical system.
“A structured approach is being implemented that will involve adding additional crews on our system to assist,” said Larry Horn, director of operations. “The approach may take several months to complete and will begin in the western portion of our system, then work towards the east.”
The right-of-way department and contractors will patrol, locate and mark trees that are in danger of falling and hitting co-op lines. They will also inspect dead trees that are reported by members.
“While dead trees are hazardous, it does take time for them to become structurally unsound and dangerous,” Horn said. “The entire system will be covered in a timely manner before they become an extreme hazard.”
Some trees may not be cut immediately, but a ribbon will be placed on a dead tree after it has been inspected and entered into the work plan to be cut. It may take several months to cut down marked trees as crews methodically address trees along each feeder and distribution line.
“It can cost twice as much to cut a tree if it is unplanned versus cutting a tree when a crew is scheduled to reach it,” said Billy Snook, right-of-way supervisor. “The majority of trees become a hazard a year after they are dead, but the crews will still cut trees quickly if the planners find them to be an immediate danger.”
While Sam Houston EC will cut dead trees on a landowner’s property if they are a danger to the distribution system, the debris from these trees is not removed and is the responsibility of the property owner.
Sam Houston EC encourages members to report any dead trees near power lines by calling 1-800-458-0381 or submitting a service order through the co-op’s app or website.
“If a tree is visibly touching a power line, do not attempt to cut, trim, or remove it. The tree could conduct electricity and be dangerous to you, or anyone nearby.” said Horn. “Call our outage line immediately at 888-444-1207 for assistance.”