‘Trees Falling Is Leading Cause Of Outages’

February 27, 2019 | 2 Comments

BELCO issued a reminder to the public to ensure their trees are cut back from power lines and also outlined how to safely go about doing so.

A spokesperson said, “Trees falling on power lines is the leading cause of power outages in Bermuda. In 2018 there were 32 non-hurricane related power outages from trees falling on power lines that resulted in 3,407 customers losing power for a combined time of 78 hours.

“These outages happened in every parish and there were only three months when there were no tree-related outages. Many outages occur during winter gales with more than 750 customers losing power in January, February and March.

“With winter upon us, and the certainty that Bermuda will experience gales during the next few months, the Bermuda Electric Light Company Ltd. [BELCO] today issued a reminder to the public that it is a property owner’s responsibility to ensure their trees are cut back from power lines and also outlined how to safely go about doing so.

“BELCO spends approximately $250,000 per year to hire local landscaping companies to ensure trees are cut back near main line circuits and some branch lines and this proactive approach has prevented outages on main line circuits in the last seven years following the programme’s launch in 2011.

“While BELCO is encouraging property owners to keep their trees trimmed, it should be noted that the Company does not offer a tree-trimming service.

“If a property owner is not sure if it is their responsibility to trim trees they can contact BELCO who will make a determination if it is the responsibility of the Company or property owner. If supply to the power lines needs to be turned off BELCO will work with the home owner and contractor to ensure it is safe to work around the power lines.

“Residents or their landscaping service planning to trim trees in close proximity to power lines are asked to call BELCO at 299-2800 or email treetrimming@belco.bm in advance and power will be disconnected to ensure safety. A date and start and finish time will be mutually agreed between the customer and BELCO.

“Other than under emergency conditions, such work will normally be scheduled approximately three weeks from the date of request, which will allow BELCO time to programme the outage.

“The Operations Centre will schedule an outage and issue an isolation confirmation certificate to the contractor which clearly outlines areas that are safe to work in and areas that are not. There is no charge to customers for arranging power supply be turned off so tree trimming can take place.

“The BELCO representative who disconnects the power will ensure that the person in charge of the work on site is informed of the limits of the work zone. In addition, the BELCO representative on site will post DANGER notices on any adjacent live apparatus in order to clearly identify the safe working zone. Customers will be advised to treat the system as if it were live and to avoid all contact with BELCO equipment. It is recommended that there is a minimum ten feet clearance between power lines and trees.

“Prior to the power being restored, the BELCO representative will:

  • Ensure that the person in charge of the work is informed that the section is about to be made live.
  • Ensure that the isolated section is clear and intact prior to switching power back on.
  • Ensure that the person in charge of the work is informed when power has been restored to that section.
  • Ensure that any DANGER notices posted have been removed.

A BELCO Spokesman said: “While many people think trees only affect power lines during hurricanes, we actually get damage from trees throughout the year. There are several ways outages can be caused such as rain that can cause branches to become heavy and rest on power lines or winter gales can cause tree limbs to snap and cause outages.

“Often when a property owner’s trees cause power lines to fault, it affects not only their own property but those of neighboring properties that are on the same circuit.

“The best way to prevent these outages is to ensure trees are trimmed with a minimum of ten feet of clearance from power lines. With winter gales now affecting the island now is the time to get trees trimmed so property owners can avoid outages.”

“To schedule a controlled disconnection of power call 299-2800 or e-mail treetrimming@belco.bm.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Y-Gurl says:

    Trees cause brownouts, spikes, under and over voltages…..who knew

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