Westar Energy expands ReliabiliTree

By The Mercury

A tree-trimming program designed to improve safety and lessen outages has expanded to Manhattan. Trees contacting powerlines are a leading cause of power outages, according to a Westar Energy press release. The program puts “vegetation management—the clearing and pruning of trees—on a four-to-five year cycle.”

“Tree pruning prevents power outages and improves safety by reducing the risk of accidental contact with powerline, “ said Elise Eisenbarth, director of support services. “As we’ve witnessed in Wichita and in Lawrence, ReliabiliTree significantly improves electric reliability and customer satisfaction.”

ReliabiliTree began in Wichita area as a pilot program in 2010. Since its launch, Westar has cleared 70 percent of Wichita’s circuits and reduced the number of tree-related power outages by more than 60 percent.

Westar will provide customers a door hanger, including information about the program and pruning practices prior to the work. Westar will use local contractors and national standards to prune the tress near power lines. After pruning, the tree may look somewhat “stark,” but over time will fill out.

Westar advises that some trees may also be removed. This program is different from practices in the past by Westar because it is a routine maintenance rather than done on an as-needed basis such as after a power outage has occurred.

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