Duke Energy clearing power lines in Southern Pines, Whispering Pines

Tree and vegetation maintenance work will be performed this winter around power lines in part of Southern Pines and Whispering Pines, and the surrounding areas, in a collaborative effort by Duke Energy Progress, its contract crews and local officials.

Crews are working to ensure safe and reliable electric service for citizens while striving to maintain the beauty of the local community.

Beginning the week of Jan. 10, contract tree crews from Xylem Tree Experts will be performing vegetation maintenance work around the Duke Energy Progress power lines along 20 miles of circuits that serve parts of Southern Pines and Whispering Pines and the surrounding areas.

The crews will be clearing circuits along a portion of US 1, NC 2 (Midland Road), NC 22 (Central Avenue), Airport Road (Southern Pines) and Ray’s Bridge Road (Whispering Pines), and the surrounding areas.

This work on those 20 miles of power lines is expected to be completed by the end of March, weather permitting.

Trees growing near power lines can cause fires and be an electrical hazard to the public. During storms, trees and tree limbs can fall into power lines and cause power outages.

David McNeill, district manager of Duke Energy, based in Aberdeen, said the utility will be working to maintain the natural beauty of the community while fulfilling the company’s commitment to provide its customers with safe, reliable electric service.

“Trees are part of the natural beauty of the communities we serve, and yet trees and other vegetation are also among the leading causes of power outages,” McNeill said.  “We must constantly work to balance maintaining the natural beauty with our responsibility to provide a safe and reliable electric system for all of our customers.”

The electric utility is working proactively with customers and with community leaders throughout the company’s service area to keep them informed of vegetation and right-of-way management activities in their area.  Door hangers identifying the planned work to be performed in the area will be left on each customer’s door (typically one week or more in advance) of the crews arriving for scheduled pruning.

Duke Energy Progress has statutory rights granted by the North Carolina Utilities Commission and, in most cases, has also obtained easements and agreements with local communities and property owners that allow it to build and maintain its power lines. These rights and agreements allow the company to manage vegetation, including trees that pose a threat to the reliability of the electric system.

When pruning yard trees, the company’s standard approach for distribution lines is to not top or “round over” trees but to use professional techniques called lateral and directional pruning. These methods are endorsed by all professional organizations in the tree-care industry as being the best pruning technique for the health of the trees. Duke Energy Progress hires qualified, trained tree experts to clear electric lines on its systems.

The company’s policy is to dispose of small limbs and brush that are pruned in landscaped settings and to cut larger pieces of wood into manageable lengths for use by the property owner. On non-landscaped sites, pruned vegetation and wood are cut down to a low profile and left to naturally decompose. Disposal of vegetation resulting from storms and other emergency operations is the responsibility of the property owner.

Duke Energy Progress maintains more than 40,000 miles of overhead power lines. While it is not possible to fully eliminate tree interference along all overhead power lines, the utility expects the number of vegetation-caused outages to be reduced because of this proactive work.

Customers who have questions related to this work may contact Duke Energy Progress customer service at 800-452-2777.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers, as we work to enhance service reliability in Southern Pines and Whispering Pines and the surrounding areas, and throughout our service area,” McNeill said.



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