Trimming Trees Prevents Outages

Specialized tree crews trim trees within NLI’s rights-of-way year-round

Winter power workTrees are a beautiful part of our landscape and a part of our local economy. But for Northern Lights Inc., trees are also an ongoing maintenance concern and a major cause of outages.

Specialized tree crews trim trees within NLI’s rights-of-way year-round, with extra crews added during the warmer seasons. NLI trims between 200 and 250 miles of rights- of-away annually. As for tree-related outages, most occur during snow season when trees become loaded with snow or ice and lean or fall into NLI’s overhead power lines.

A strong wind event any time of year can also cause major issues with trees. Most of NLI’s distribution power lines are between 30 to 45 feet above the ground, and our easements are typically 40 feet wide. Many of the softwood (pine) species in our area grow more than 100 feet tall. If you do the math, there’s a good chance if a tree falls into NLI’s right-of-way, it will fall on the power line.

When given permission by a landowner, NLI removes hazard trees outside our easement that pose a threat to NLI’s power lines. Hazard trees are dead trees, leaning trees, damaged trees—in other words, trees that just need a little bit of extra force to fall. If you have a hazard tree on your property near NLI’s power line, please report it to us using the “Request Tree Clearing” form on our website or call our main office during business hours at 208-263-5141.

In addition to tree trimming helping to prevent outages, NLI also needs to have access to power lines to perform maintenance and repairs. As an NLI member, you can help by not planting trees under or near overhead power lines, not attaching fences or wires to poles and by reporting vegetation issues you observe.

Northern Lights Engineering & Operations Manager Kristin Mettke is an electrical engineer and has worked in the electric utility industry most of her career.