In SEC’s commitment to providing our members with safe and reliable electricity, your Cooperative conducts rights-of-way tree trimming to reduce outages caused by trees and vegetation growth. Where crews are trimming, our certified arborists also look for hazard trees that need to be removed.
Updated technology, new and innovative safety practices, equipment, tools and methods are incorporated into SEC’s rights-of-way program and become standards, also known as industry best practices. The Cooperative adopts these standards as they evolve, all to increase reliability and improve efficiency. One of these technologies, while not new to the industry, is aerial trimming.
SEC first implemented aerial trimming in 2015, then again in 2018 and it continues today. Aerial trimming is an efficient way to cut limbs overhanging power lines that are higher than standard bucket trucks can reach or are not accessible with equipment. The only other way to remove those overhanging limbs is to climb each tree and piece down those limbs using ropes. It is a slow process and puts personnel at a greater risk by climbing to heights of up to 100 feet.
The helicopter uses a detachable saw hanging 130 feet below to remove overhang and trim back vegetation. It is an efficient and cost-effective solution to trimming, providing many years of power lines being free from overhang. This method of trimming greatly reduces the chances of limbs falling from snow, ice and wind. The Cooperative has seen positive results from aerial trimming and has plans to continue trimming for the next several years.
In 2021, this process helped SEC trim around 120 miles of line and over 9,000 hazard trees. Thus far in 2022, aerial trimming has taken place in Powhatan, Cumberland and Nottoway counties. During the process, members often experience blinks and/or temporary loss of power. Lineworkers are always on standby to restore lost power as soon as possible. Please do not approach the aircraft or enter the right-of-way if you see the aircraft.