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O&R's Tree-Care Work Prepares Electric System for Hurricane Season

With about 4,000 miles of overhead electric distribution wires in its 1,350 square-mile service area, O&R’s tree-trimming and removal programs provide critically important protection for overhead equipment and help reduce storm-related damage that can knock out power to customers.

This tree-trimming and removal work, and additional electric system storm hardening efforts, such as burying overhead electric wires in strategic areas, are part of a year-around program designed to keep O&R’s electric service reliable. Click here to see our tree-trimming program in action. 

At no time of the year is that tree-trimming and removal work more appreciated than the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season which starts tomorrow, June 1, and runs through November 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts another above average hurricane season with the prediction of 14-21 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-6 major storms (Category 3 or above). The 2021 season, NOAA’s third busiest on record, included Hurricane Ida which caused $75 billion in damages and 96 deaths from Louisiana to Connecticut and catastrophic flooding in and around New York City.

O&R’s Vice President – Operations Orville Cocking said, “Removing hazardous trees before they fall on power lines helps protect homeowners, the public, first responders and O&R crews -whether it’s in a severe hurricane, tropical storm, hard summer downpour or a mid-winter blizzard.”

He added, “With a significant number of storm-related outages caused by downed trees and limbs, tree-trimming and hazardous tree removal are some of the most important parts of reinforcing the grid.” 

O&R manages trees and plants around transmission lines according to New York and New Jersey state regulations to keep the operation of these lines safe and reliable. Company contractors trim and remove trees along the transmission right-of-way generally every three years and visit some areas of rapid growth more frequently. Trees along O&R’s distribution lines are trimmed and removed at least every four years based on generally accepted industry best practices in the Northeast region.

In addition to its own tree-trimming program, O&R is helping homeowners and municipalities identify and remove hazardous trees that are located near O&R equipment but are not on O&R easements or property. Since O&R’s Hazardous Tree program was created in 2018, crews have removed over 4,900 hazardous trees with the permission of a homeowner or a municipality.

The tree trimming and hazardous tree removal programs are among the many resiliency projects O&R has undertaken to improve safety, reduce storm-related outages and cut the time it takes to repair damage caused by extreme weather events.

Electric Reliability Investments 

New energy reliability investments include several projects to provide additional storm protection for the electric system. These storm-hardening projects reinforce the electric system to improve electric service resiliency and minimize storm-related service interruptions by upgrading four miles of existing overhead wire with higher capacity, tree-resistant cable and replacing approximately 1,000 utility poles with new, sturdier poles. Click here to see how tree-resistant cable can reduce overhead electric outages.

In the past year, O&R has undertaken several reliability and resilience projects to upgrade electric service and install heavier duty cable in areas deemed most affected including Suffern, New City, West Nyack, New Square, Stony Point, Monroe, Middletown, and Tuxedo Park.

Smart Grid Technology

To provide greater electric system reliability, O&R also continues to further automate its electric system through smart grid technological improvements. The smart grid integrates state-of-the-art equipment and technology with advances in computer analysis, communications, monitoring and control to significantly enhance system reliability, efficiency and overall quality of service.

For example, “smart” operating equipment – communication systems, automated switches, sensors, and other “intelligent” devices – enables the electric system to detect where issues on the circuit exist and automatically isolate those issues. This isolated section of the circuit would remain out of service until repairs are made, but the remainder of the circuit – often serving hundreds of other customers – would remain energized, providing uninterrupted service to those customers.

O&R also continues to improve storm response with more efficient communication with customers, via texts, emails, and social media.

About O&R

Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, is a regulated utility. O&R provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.