With hurricane season underway, Con Edison is expanding its efforts to partner with Westchester homeowners in a pilot program to identify and remove damaged and diseased trees on their property that could threaten power lines during storms.
The trees, identified by certified arborists as presenting a potential hazard, are removed with the permission of the homeowner and free of charge as part of a $2 million program to reduce power outages caused by trees and branches falling on overhead lines.
“The response to this pilot program has been terrific. Together with our customers, we are helping to improve the reliability of service in the Westchester communities that have been most affected by power outages during severe storms,” says Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison. “This program is a first-of-its-kind effort to help build awareness about the importance of identifying and removing trees that show the greatest risk of falling.”
Focusing on the communities most impacted by outages due to tree-related damage, Con Edison crews have surveyed trees in Yorktown, Cortlandt, North Castle, Croton-on-Hudson, Armonk, Briarcliff Manor, Elmsford, Harrison, White Plains, Rye, and Mount Kisco. More than 1,100 were identified as hazard trees. So far, more than 700 homeowners have given permission for Con Edison’s licensed tree-service contractors to remove such trees from their property. More than 500 have already been removed.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer says, “All of us here in Westchester know firsthand how devastating storms can be to our homes and our lives. While we value trees aesthetics – we must also be practical when it comes to taking prudent steps to prevent power outages. I thank Con Edison for expanding their tree removal program, and working with homeowners to prevent power outages.”
Con Edison is investing $100 million to make the overhead electric delivery system in Westchester more reliable and resistant to storm damage.
Last year, back-to-back winter storms caused outages for more than 155,000 Westchester customers, resulting in the largest restoration effort in company history after Superstorm Sandy. Con Edison crews worked with Westchester municipalities to clear more than 700 roads blocked by downed trees and wires and performed more than 7,000 rebuild and repair jobs to restore power.
Virtually all of the damage to the Con Edison distribution system was the result of fallen trees and branches. In the hardest-hit areas, 77 percent of the surveyed damage was caused by privately owned trees and large tree limbs.
“When Con Edison said it was going to take down the trees and take them off my property, I was very appreciative that they were doing this proactively and that it wasn’t going to cost me anything,” says Francesco Affrunti, a homeowner in Armonk, New York.
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For additional information on Con Edison’s program, visit conEd.com/TreeTrimming.