NJ trying out new approach to keeping power lines clear of trees

As winter storms cause trees and limbs to fall and break power lines, a pilot program in New Jersey is looking at how to remove potentially hazardous trees from private property before they cause problems.

Overhanging trees are a major cause of power interruptions, said state Board of Utilities commissioner Dianne Solomon, but utility crews can’t trim or cut them if they’re outside the company’s right-of-way.

Municipal officials are working closely with electric distribution companies to identify the most hazardous trees on private property in the seven towns — Freehold Township, East Windsor. Millstone, Blairstown, Little Ferry, North Haledon, and Garwood — participating in the pilot programs.

“The municipality is responsible for obtaining permission from the homeowner to remove the tree and the [electric distribution company] is responsible for taking it down, grinding the stump, and issuing a voucher for replacing the tree with an appropriate species,” Solomon said.

The utility companies are footing the bill for removing up to 20 trees in each town. The pilot program, which ends in May, might be expanded.

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