September 4, 2012

Power outage group recommends $34M smart tree policy

The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection's task force to update the state's tree and vegetation policy in the wake of 2011's widespread power outages released its recommendations on Tuesday, essentially calling on municipalities and property owners to think about how tall trees will grow near power lines and giving them $34 million to do so.

After the two 2011 power outages – Tropical Storm Irene in August and the snowstorm in October – DEEP formed the State Vegetation Management Task Force to deal with the growth of trees around the state, as falling limbs were the principal cause of the outages.

The task force on Tuesday released its "Right Tree, Right Place" policy calling on anyone planting trees to match the type of tree next to the particular conditions at the site. This includes planting trees with short mature heights near utilities and roads.

To fund its recommendations, the task force said the state should provide $100,000 per town annually for two years – $33.8 million total – to assist in tree maintenance.

The other recommendations includes giving property owners information on proper tree maintenance, having municipalities develop five-year roadside management plans for trees, and certifying municipal tree wardens.

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