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The official voice of West Florida Electric Cooperative:

March 2024

Clearing the Path to Reliability

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We know our members depend on us to deliver reliable power to their homes and businesses. That's why West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) strives to balance maintaining the beautiful surroundings we love with ensuring reliable electricity. You might not realize it, but there are several benefits to regular tree trimming.

Keeping power lines clear of overgrown vegetation improves service reliability. We have seen the impacts of Mother Nature during severe weather events with falling tree limbs taking down power lines and utility poles. While many factors can impact power disruptions, about half of all outages can be attributed to overgrown vegetation. This is why you sometimes see WFEC crews or contractors out in the community trimming trees near power lines. Our trimming crews have been trained and certified based on the latest industry standards.

In fact, all U.S. electric utilities are required to trim trees that grow too close to power lines. Scheduled trimming throughout the year keeps lines clear from overgrown or dead limbs that are likely to fall, and we are better able to prepare for severe weather events. Plus, we all know it's more cost-effective to undertake preventative maintenance than it is to make repairs after the fact.

Working near power lines can be dangerous, and we care about your safety and that of our lineworkers. For example, if trees are touching power lines in our members' yards, they can pose a grave danger to families. If children can reach those trees, they can potentially climb into a danger zone. Electricity can arc, or jump, from a power line to a nearby conductor such as a tree.

Any tree or branch that falls across a power line creates a potentially dangerous situation. A proactive approach lessens the changes of fallen trees during severe weather that make it more complicated and dangerous for lineworkers to restore power.

As a co-op, WFEC always strives to keep costs down for our members. If trees and other vegetation are left unchecked, they can become overgrown and expensive to correct. A strategic vegetation management program helps keep costs down for everyone.

When it comes to vegetation management, there are ways you can help too. When planting new trees, make sure they are planted a safe distance from overhead power lines. Medium-height trees (40 ft. or smaller) should be planted at least 25 ft. from power lines. Taller trees (over 40 ft.) should be planted at least 50 ft. from power lines. You can also practice safe planting near pad-mounted transformers. Plant shrubs at least 10 ft. from the transformer door and 4 ft. from the sides. If your neighborhood has underground lines, remember to contact 811 before you begin any project that requires digging.

Additionally, if you spot an overgrown tree or branch that is dangerously close to overhead lines, please let us know by calling 800-342-7400.

We have deep roots in our communities, and we love our beautiful surroundings. Our vegetation management program is a crucial tool to ensure reliability.