SEARCY, Ark. -- Contract workers for Entergy Arkansas, Inc. will be trimming trees near power lines in the Searcy area through November.
“Trees and branches are the biggest threat to the electricity grid during storms, so trimming them back on a regular basis is key to maintaining the integrity of the system,” said Customer Service Manager Flave Carpenter. “Even during clear weather, untended trees can cause momentary electrical outages when they brush against power lines.”
Tree trimming crews are working on a series of circuits in and north of Searcy covering 281 line miles. These circuits deliver electricity to more than 9,000 customers.
Those who travel in the area are asked to take note of work areas and drive with caution.
All of Entergy Arkansas’ overhead power lines are trimmed on a regular basis. The length of time between trimmings varies depending on geography, but, on average, about every five years. “Entergy Arkansas invests about $30 million annually in vegetation management. Tree trimming is a key component to a comprehensive set of maintenance work and upgrades, all designed to enhance reliability,” said Carpenter.
The workers trimming trees will try to contact customers in person as they go through an area to inform them of the work. If no one is at home, they leave a door hanger.
All cuttings are removed from urban areas, although sometimes not until several days after the trimming. Limbs will be ground into chips and disposed of in an appropriate manner.
“We understand that people are attached to their trees,” Carpenter said. “We do our best to trim only what’s necessary to protect the lines, but cutting back five years of growth is definitely going to be noticed.”
Entergy follows the National Electrical Code, which requires a clearance around power lines. Protruding limbs are trimmed back to the next limb or to the trunk so they won't be apt to grow out again and interfere with the lines. Only limbs affecting the power lines are removed, which means trees are trimmed only on one side or only at the top or only through the middle, depending on where the lines are.
Entergy is a Tree Line USA utility. The Tree Line USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and recognizes utilities that meet three requirements: a program of quality tree care, annual worker training in quality tree care practices and a tree planting and public education program.
“Some of what we trim are trees that have been planted under power lines,” said Carpenter. “Customers can help keep the lights on long-term by taking care not to plant trees under or near power lines, especially fast-growing, brittle trees like Bradford Pears.”
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $10.8 billion and more than 13,000 employees.