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Eyes in the field: Line patrol helps ensure safe, reliable service

Andy Olson, Supervisor or Forestry Services
Andy Olson - Supervisor, Forestry Services

More than 7,000 miles of power line on our system will be visually inspected this year to help ensure you have electricity when you need it and to protect our crews and the public.

“All the lines on our system are patrolled on a 12 to 18-month rotation,” said Andy Olson, Supervisor, Forestry Services. “The timing depends on how recently the circuit was cleared of vegetation, which is done on a six-year cycle, and the time of year when the circuit was last patrolled.”

We contract with certified arborists to patrol the lines, a job that continues year around.

“Winter is a great time to identify structural defects within the crown of a tree, due to lack of leaf cover,” Olson said. “Frozen ground provides access to the lines in areas that are usually wet.”

Arborists look for trees that are likely to contact overhead power lines because they are dead, dying, diseased, storm damaged or otherwise structurally unsound. These hazard trees can be the cause of power outages, line damage, fires and other safety concerns. 

Trees scheduled for removal are marked with red paint or ribbon. They are removed without notification, unless they are in a home landscape. Tree debris is left on site for member use or disposal.

“While patrolling, contractors also do a visual inspection of the above-ground electrical equipment to ensure it’s in safe working order. They report any equipment in need of repair,” Olson said.

Line patrol and hazard tree removal, combined with the other components of our vegetation management program, helped us achieve the best reliability record in our history in 2017.
Learn more about vegetation managment.

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