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OPINION: You may need to actually have your trees professionally trimmed (as in, their branches cut.)

PMG FILE PHOTO - Michael J. SykesTrees and power lines do not mix. Trees are one of our leading causes of power outages. They also create risk for potentially starting wildfires.

Since the beginning of 2018, more than one out of every four outages at Columbia River PUD has been caused by trees.

A recent outage affecting all of our customers served by the Goble Substation was caused by a tree that didn't even fall onto a power line. It landed on a guy wire, causing the insulators on our transmission line to break away from the pole and cause a large fault. That left 947 customers in the dark for varying lengths of time as we worked to restore power. After about four hours, all customers had their power back on.

As we head into the winter storm season, wind and snow bring with them the potential to drop trees onto our power lines. However, trees pose a different threat in the dry summer months.

A tree or branch falling onto a line can cause a spark or an electrical arc. In dry weather, this can create a big risk for wildfires like the ones we have seen in our region the last couple of years.

We are doing everything in our power to decrease the risk of wildfires. For the sake of public safety and to reduce the frequency of tree-caused outages, we aggressively trim and remove trees that are close to our power lines.

We ask all customers to call us if you have trees in the vicinity of our power lines. Even if they are outside of our right-of-way, we may still want to trim or remove these trees.

Our tree trimming and removal service is provided at no additional cost to the customer. If you have trees on your property growing near power lines, we may remove them for you as part of our outage and fire mitigation efforts.

You can request tree trimming or removal by calling us at 503-397-1844 or by filling out an online form at crpud.net/trees.

Please do not trim trees that are growing near your service line yourself. This is very dangerous and puts you at risk for deadly electrical shock.

We want to keep our customers and our community safe, and we want to keep your lights on. That's why we're asking you to contact us if you see trees encroaching on our power lines.

Michael J. Sykes is general manager of the Columbia River People's Utility District.


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