CL&P Busy Trimming Before Next Big Storm


We all remember it well.  The two major storms of 2011 left Connecticut dark for days, even weeks in cases like Lisa Romasanto.

"In both storms we lost electricity for roughly a week," said Romasanto.

The Colchester residents says trees were twisted in the power lines outside her home for days.  Scenes of destruction got the Governor's attention who demanded action from Connecticut Light & Power after the storms.

"As lovely as these trees are they don't have to be hanging over the wires any longer," said Malloy in November of 2011.

Earlier this year, CL&P announced it would spend nearly twice as much money removing and cutting back trees from powerlines across the state.  Since then, crew have in fact been out trimming 1,700 miles of line.  Most recently, they were in Romasanto's neck of the woods.

"We got a letter that they're going to cut down trees on my road, Clark Road.  So, we eagerly awaited it," Romasanto said.

In August, the tree crews arrived and got to work.  Tree limbs were trimmed on neighboring Standish Road.  But after a few days things went silent.  Romasanto's street was untouched.

"We saw the tree cutting down that road and down that road.  But there was nothing over here." Romasanto pointed out.

Romasanto says she was told by CL&P that she'd be lucky to see the trees trimmed in the next year.  But after our calls to CL&P, the story changed.  A CL&P spokesperson says someone misspoke and a crew would be on Romasanto's street by the end of October.

"I think there was miscommunication there because that entire circuit was scheduled for 2012.  We'll be there," said David Goodson, CL&P manager of vegetation management.

Goodson tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters that the utility has received 8,000 tree trimming requests already this year.  Last year, that number was just over 6,000.

"After the two storms, most people realized that the problem we have when it comes to outages is trees.  The number 1 cause of interruption of service to our customers is trees and in a storm about 9 out of 10 outages are tree related," Goodson said.

It's a big reason why Goodson wants to know about any tree that could wreak havoc on his lines during a storm.

"We'll always send someone to look.  We may not do anything because it may not be a threat right now, but we'll always send somebody to look," Goodson said.

Goodson wants people to look for tree rot and decay or mushroom growth.  If a tree is infested with bugs, chances are it needs to come down.

In the last 5 years, CL&P's tree trimming budget has been up and down.  From 2008-2009, the utility dropped its budget by 3 million dollars.  In 2010 and 2011, the budget was increased by just under a million dollars and 2 million dollars respectively.  But after last year's storms, it became clear the company wasn't spending enough to maintain Connecticut's aging forest. 

In most state's there are only about 85 trees per square mile on average.  In Connecticut, there are 186 trees and in southeastern Connecticut there are 223 trees per square mile.  Goodson says the stepped up trimming efforts will help.

"If we get a major storm, we're still going to have outages, but this will lessen the impact for sure," he said.

It's part of the reason Romasanto wants the trees outside her door trimmed before the next major storm hits.

"They wrote us a letter saying they were going to do something.  I expect a follow through," Romasanto argued.

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