Protecting power lines during severe weather
New regulations could soon be adopted to allow New Jersey's major utility companies to remove so-called high hazard trees near power lines.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently completed a high hazard pilot program that called for Public Service Electric and Gas, and Jersey Central Power and Light to take down 120 trees that would threaten power lines in the event of a severe storm.
During Superstorm Sandy almost three years ago, more than 100,000 trees came down on electric lines, causing massive outages that lasted for weeks in some areas. In addition, two violent derecho wind storms in South Jersey also left thousands without power for several days.
Brooke Houston, a spokesperson for PSE&G Communications, said this kind of a program makes sense.
'We are trying to be as proactive as we can be in going out and identifying hazard trees, and those are trees that really pose an imminent threat to our equipment," she said. "Our tree trimming and removal program is year round and ongoing, but this program enabled us to really double down on our efforts in a few communities."
Houston said the removal of trees that could pose a hazard to power lines improves the "safety and reliability of our system and our customers."
"That is always are number one concern," she said.
Ron Morano, a spokesman for JCP&L, said all of New Jersey's utilities are aware of the importance of tree trimming and vegetation management near power lines.
"We're working to educate customers about the right types of trees to plant near power lines because that can impact safety and reliability in the future," he said.