A snowstorm in the Northeast over the weekend has left more than 2 million people in the dark, and utility officials from West Virginia to Maine are saying trees in power lines are the main culprit.
Middle Tennessee Electric’s Environmental System Supervisor Derrick Lynch, who’s in charge of the cooperative’s tree trimming program, admits the scenario in the Northeast is one reason why keeping rights of way cleared is important to a utility system’s reliability.
“Eight out of ten times the power goes out during inclement weather, it can be traced back to tree limbs or branches contacting power lines,” Lynch said. “In weather scenarios that involve heavy snow, trees that are not cut back and removed can really cause serious problems.”
Lynch admits it’s not usually heavy snow in middle Tennessee that does the damage.
“We don’t have a lot of heavy, wet snow scenarios here in the Southeast,” Lynch said, “but we do get ice, which is just as bad and can make the lines sag into nearby trees.
“Obviously, we also have severe storms that generate high winds and can wreak havoc on our system throughout the year.”
Lynch says tree trimming is one of the toughest jobs at Middle Tennessee Electric.
“Cutting back and removing trees in our rights of way is one of our most necessary jobs, but it’s not easy,” Lynch said. “While we understand the concerns expressed by members at times, it’s our moral and legal responsibility to provide our members this service to ensure the most efficient and reliable power possible.”
Middle Tennessee Electric, one of the nation's largest electric distribution cooperatives, serves nearly 185,000 members in Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Cannon counties.