Orange & Rockland Utilities initially planned to begin trimming trees near power lines in Orangetown earlier this month.
Now the plan is to begin the work in mid-July, in part because the company is still contacting homeowners who have trees on their property that would be trimmed or taken down. Mike Donovan of Orange & Rockland said the weather has also contributed to the delay.
The hope is to avoid the complaints that were caused by previous similar efforts by O&R.
"In 2008, it was a disaster," Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart said. "Everybody was up in arms when they saw trees coming down and though they were being unnecessarily draconian in their cutting.
"It is O&R's goal and our goal to protect residents and facilitate the process. We don't want trees falling on power lines any more than anybody else does. The tricky thing to handle is they have an all-or-nothing approach. If it is by a transmission line any tree of the wrong species, even a small one, has to be removed entirely. It may take 10 years to get to the power line."
Donovan said most of the work will be trimming back trees rather than cutting them down.
"It won't be many trees going down, per se," Donovan said. "This is the second cycle of the transmission work. A lot of stuff is being cleared that was not part of the regular clearing procedure the first time. Now it will be far less intensive work over there."
Orange & Rockland trims back trees around transmission lines to comply with standards implemented by state and federal agencies after the massive blackout that impacted nearly 50 million people in the United States and Canada in August 2003. The New York State Public Service Commission approved the company’s Transmission Vegetation Management Plan. O&R has a question and answer page regarding vegetation management on its website, which can be found here.
Trees within each transmission line's right-of-way, are managed. This is the space below the wires and a distance of 50 feet on each side of the lines. Customers seeking more information can call Mark Beamish, O&R's manager for vegetation management, at 1-866-458-3079.
One reason transmission lines are so important is the number of customers that will lose power if they go down.
"The high lines carry an enormous amount of power," Donovan said. "If they go down, a thousand customers are out. That leads to longer outages."
Donovan said O&R has learned from past work in this area.
"Like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it," Donovan said. "We have contractors do this work. They are more closely supervised by O&R than the first time out. There is a routine customer contact program that we carry out now to make sure people understand the work we're doing.
"We find folks are cooperative. The more folks know about the work we are doing, the more cooperative they are. They do understand, especially after the severe weather the last couple of years."