Backlog in Maritime Electric tree trimming caused by Dorian

Maritime Electric is working on an increased number of issues related to trees near power lines after damage from post-tropical storm Dorian caused delays in routine tree trimming.

Officials say there are around 670 requests for routine tree maintenance

Spokesperson Kim Griffin says the utility has more than 80,000 customers on Prince Edward Island and more than 100,000 power poles to maintain. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The damage caused by post-tropical storm Dorian has created a delay in routine preventative tree trimming, according to Maritime Electric.

Spokesperson Kim Griffin said on Friday there are around 670 requests in the maintenance system to have trees — or parts of trees — near power lines assessed or removed.

But all that work gets triaged during weather events or emergencies to focus on main transmission lines and areas that have greater impact on the most customers.

"That's something that goes into the system and then each district looks at it in terms of part of the maintenance that they do on a day-to-day basis," said Griffin.

If the work is classified as an emergency — like something is on fire or a power line is completely down — Griffin said they will likely get to it that day.

Griffin says they quite often get calls during the week from customers reporting trees and branches near or on power lines. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Griffin said the utility has more than 80,000 customers on Prince Edward Island and more than 100,000 power poles to maintain. If customers have a concern about a tree too close to a line, they should contact the company.

A representative would be sent out to assess the area and include it in a district's preventative maintenance, if it was warranted.

Maritime Electric spends around $1.5 million a year on tree trimming, Griffin said, with eight to 10 people working Island-wide on any given day.

Some situations may look bad to a customer but may not actually be interfering with power. (CBC)

Dorian damage caused trees to fall or shift closer to lines all over the province. That changed Maritime Electric's priorities as they shifted to fix the most concerning areas first.

"Dorian did put us behind by a couple of months and in some areas, we're still doing some clean up just from Dorian around our system," Griffin said.

"There are some that could be done in a month or two months. There could be some, we are looking to get them in 2020, but there still could be some in 2021."

Griffin said they will continue assessing trees to work their way through the list. Sometimes, instead of trimming, if there is a tree that could cause a problem, the offer from Maritime Electric is to remove it completely.

Critical issues take priority over routine tree trimming, Griffin said.

"So right now, as part of the job assignment, it may not be as fast as everyone would like and we certainly apologize for that," Griffin said.

"But we really have to focus on some of the areas that are having the biggest impact on keeping the power on."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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