For more than two years, many District 14 residents (as well as residents from other parts of Dallas with old-growth trees) have complained about Oncor’s aggressive tree pruning around electrical lines, which too often results in hacked up or dead trees. I have met several times with Oncor and held public meetings to discuss the issue, and Oncor has continued to investigate ways to mitigate tree damage.
Now, Oncor is beginning a new pilot program for a small number of “heavily forested residential neighborhoods” which will involve covering power lines with an aerial cable. During the pilot period, they’re also going to reduce how much they trim trees in residential areas — pruning 7 feet from the power line instead of 10 feet 4 inches.
Here is Oncor’s announcement:
Oncor’s Tree Pruning Pilot Program
In response to customer concerns and discussions with state and city leaders, Oncor is preparing to begin testing new covered aerial cable in a small number of areas. The hopeful result of the testing will be that covered aerial cable can be installed in heavily forested residential neighborhoods and reduce the amount of pruning performed on the trees.
While types of covered lines have been around for many years, previous types did not meet reliability, safety and cost effective needs. Oncor will begin testing newer technology of covered aerial cable to determine whether these needs can be met.
Oncor will also begin developing standards to determine which areas could benefit from covered aerial cable while, still maintaining Oncor’s reliability and safety standards. The types of areas that Oncor will initially be looking at are residential neighborhoods that contain heavily forested older trees. Other criteria that will be examined are the reliability history of the areas and the species of trees in the area.
The new covered aerial cable may or may not tum out to be a long term solution for customers’ concerns regarding Oncor’s tree pruning practices. The covered aerial cable must be found to be safe for the public and C)ncor’s workers, reliable and cost effective.
Covered aerial cable is heavier than traditional lines. Therefore, in some cases, Oncor will need to replace or upgrade the pole that holds up the cable.
While Oncor tests the new cable, Oncor will prune trees in residential areas to a healthy minimum of 7 ft. This means Oncor will prune branches back to a main branch or trunk. Pruning branches in the middle will expose the tree to disease and insects which can damage or kill the tree. As a result, in many cases, Oncor will often need to prune trees to a distance greater than 7 feet, just as we often pruned trees to a greater than 10ft. 4in.
After Oncor completes the program, Oncor will return to pruning to 10 ft. 4 in. in all residential neighborhoods that are not candidates for the covered aerial cable.
As mentioned one of the goals of the pilot program is to determine whether covered aerial cable is a cost-effective means to enhance Oncor’s current tree pruning practices. If the pilot program is successful and covered aerial cable is deployed on a permanent basis, Oncor will need full cost recovery of the costs.