Wildfire danger makes tree clearing top priority
Chugach Electric Assoc., is kicking off its 2020 summer right-of-way clearing program, reminding members of the need to keep utility easements free of trees and other vegetation. In order to provide safe and reliable service to members, Chugach clears trees year-round but has a more robust program in the summer when it is easier to access a utility easement, also called the right-of-way.
Trees falling into power lines are one of the leading causes of power outages, and keeping the easement clear reduces tree-related outages. A clear right-of-way also allows line crews to access power lines and restore outages quickly and safely. The threat of wildfires from dead Spruce Bark Beetle killed trees is increasing across the Municipality of Anchorage, particularly on the Anchorage Hillside, reinforcing the need for robust tree clearing.
In the summer of 2019, both the Matanuska Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula suffered major wildfires that burned structures and electric power infrastructure. The 115-kilovolt transmission line connecting the Bradley Lake hydroelectric project near Homer to Chugach and other utilities north of Cooper Landing was damaged by the Swan Lake Fire, and the line was out of service for several months. Utilities were unable to access power from Bradley Lake when the line was down, which meant more expensive gas-fired power had to be used when the renewable hydro power was not available.
Chugach has posted its 2020 Vegetation Management Plan on its website outlining the communication, processes and procedures used in right-of-way clearing. It includes what is cleared, how its cleared, notification procedures, and other frequently asked questions.