Tree Trimming Integral to CPU’s High Reliability Performance

Proactive approach saves time and money for company and customers

Trees and power lines don’t mix. That’s why Clarksdale Public Utilities prioritizes efforts to keep power lines clear of vegetation that can disrupt electric service.

Last year, the company launched a multi-year, citywide tree-trimming initiative that not only boosts restoration times following storms, but also has been an effective outage-reduction strategy, keeping CPU’s reliability performance among the best in the state.

“We are committed to this community and pride ourselves on delivering safe, reliable service to our customers,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “By taking this proactive approach to asset management, we not only save the company time and money, but help customers avoid the costs outages can cause.”

Although most outages are weather-related, routine tree trimming addresses other factors that can knock out power such as falling branches or animal contact. In fact, the American Public Power Association estimates that squirrels were the third-leading cause of outages in 2021. By maintaining the proper clearance around power lines, crews help to control these causes and reduce potential threats to electric service.

Over the past four years, the company has spent over $800,000 in tree maintenance for its 105 miles of distribution lines and 24 miles of transmission lines. As part of this initiative, the company continues to work to remove vegetation before it becomes a problem. The company uses a combination of in-house and contractor crews to clear vegetation from distribution lines and works with customers to preserve trees that are of significance or provide advice on tree placement.

Proper trimming is also beneficial for trees. Crews follow guidelines set by the American National Standards Institute to enhance tree health and having well-established right-of-way limits means that most of their efforts are focused on controlling regrowth. If growth gets out of hand, it’s harder to conform to standards.

“Strengthening reliability is a hallmark of our Bright Future initiative to improve service and keep the power safely flowing,” added Boschert. “In conjunction with vegetation management and other measures, we’re also working with engineering firms to learn how we can better fortify and reconfigure electric feeders into smaller sections, thus reducing the number of customers impacted should a tree-related or other outage occur.”

CPU does not cut or trim trees outside the right-of-way. If customers want to cut down trees or trim branches on private property, they should hire a licensed tree service.

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 125 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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