One of the biggest challenges in the electric industry is dealing with the unpredictability of Mother Nature’s wrath. In Connecticut, says Connecticut Light & Power, the No. 1 cause of power outages is trees that damage electrical equipment, often as a result of strong winds or ice.
That’s why CL&P has developed a five-year, $300-million infrastructure strengthening plan, designed to improve reliability and reduce the impact of severe weather.
CL&P’s “System Resiliency Plan,” approved last week by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), focuses on three major initiatives: tree trimming, electrical hardening through the use of coated thicker-gauge wire, and structural hardening by strengthening utility poles, cross-arms and related system equipment.
“PURA’s approval is good news for our customers, and we look forward to starting these system improvements,” said Bill Quinlan, CL&P’s senior vice president of emergency preparedness. “This investment will benefit our customers by improving the day-to-day reliability of our system and making it less vulnerable to outages caused by extreme weather.”
More than half of the $300 million will go toward tree trimming, as trees cause the vast majority of outages during severe weather.
Thirty-two million dollars will be invested this year to expand the company’s tree trimming program, in addition to its normal vegetation management program, CL&P said.
Increasing tree trimming and ensuring a clearance around electrical equipment has already proven beneficial in such areas as the Farmington Valley, where trimming was increased and the number of tree-related outages decreased, CL&P said.
Next year the company will install thicker wire that has a protective coating, known as “tree wire,” that can better withstand damage from falling branches or trees.
Work will begin this spring.