This summer’s numerous storms brought with them strong, damaging winds that toppled trees and resulted in outages across Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s service territory. To increase reliability for members, the cooperative’s vegetation management budget was recently increased to take care of areas experiencing severe tree overgrowth.
Addressing these problematic areas is above and beyond the co-op’s existing tree clearing rotation and was approved by the Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) Board of Directors at a July meeting. An additional $150,000 was approved to address 11 problematic line sections on seven different substations. In addition to improving reliability, this will help crews avoid repeat trips to the same locations.
“This additional funding will allow us to get to problematic areas earlier than we would have otherwise,” explains LREC System Arborist Abe Nebgen. “We really haven’t been able to catch much of a break for the last month and a half. With a higher than average number of storms with strong winds, and those winds coming from a variety of directions, it’s going to expose any weaknesses.”
Nebgen noted that most of the outages LREC members experienced this summer have been storm related, with a limited number of outages occurring due to other reasons. “Trees growing into the lines is preventable; trees falling onto the lines, not so much,” he says.
To prevent trees from growing into the lines, LREC utilizes a four-year vegetation management cycle. Over the last month, two trim crews, a mow crew, and a spray crew have been working around LREC’s system. The trim crews have been busy working near New York Mills and Parkers Prairie. Nebgen reports that the mow crew has also made excellent headway this year. The spray crew finished its projects for the year and will transition back to mowing later this month.
All of this trimming, mowing, and spraying helps keep the cooperative’s lines clear and power flowing to members, even when severe weather hits. By allowing crews to clear vegetation where needed, our members are helping ensure reliable electric service for themselves and their neighbors.