North Alabama utility companies explain early preparations to help prevent outages during storms

The most common and probably unpopular measure in place is having crews trim trees around utility poles.

Posted: Mar 23, 2021 5:13 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2021 6:51 PM

Storm seasons aren't the only time utility companies prepare for bad weather to hit our area. Local companies told us preparation for preventing things like power outages is something done year round.

The most common and probably unpopular measure in place is having crews trim trees around utility poles. By doing this, utility companies aren't able to prevent outages but are able to keep as many from happening during a bad storm.

"We do our best to identify problems before they occur. The tree trimming program is one of those efforts," Joe Gehrdes, the spokesperson for Huntsville Utilities, said.

Gehrdes said about every day, weather permitting crews are out making sure trees are properly maintained, so in high wind storms and tornadoes, loose branches won't hit pole lines as easily, ultimately preventing outages.

"The farther away from the powerlines we can keep tree limbs and trees, the better chances we have of avoiding outages that we have caused by those things," he said.

In more rural areas, this preventative measure is also used as well as others.

"When it looks like it's going to be bad, we make sure that our live men, they take their trucks home with them. They live all throughout our service territory, so it puts them closer to where they may be needed," Michael Cornelison, the spokesperson for Joe Wheeler EMC, said.

Even with enough preparations, outages can still occur, but the preventative measures can help decrease how many and how long it takes to fix the issue.

"We can't prepare for everything, so bad storms, tornadoes, there's just no way we can avoid outages in those cases, so we try to make sure we have everything in place to get the power on as quick as we can after something like that," Cornelison said.

Utility companies and public works say they always continue to monitor the weather, especially during storm season so they'll always be prepared in advance when bad weather hits the area.

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