I’m writing in response to a letter to the editor published in the News-Optimist on May 4, 2021. In this letter, the author expressed concerns about what she believes to be negative environmental impacts of SaskPower’s tree removal work.
SaskPower has a responsibility to provide the safe and reliable power to all its customers. This includes the right to remove any vegetation that may pose a significant risk to public or worker safety and the environment.
Each year there are over 2,000 outages caused by trees coming into contact with power lines, or about 12 per cent of all our unplanned outages. Trees growing near power lines are also a safety hazard. They can result in arcing, fires and even cause the surrounding ground to become energized, creating a risk of shock for anyone nearby.
Removing vegetation from around lines removes the safety hazard and reduces the risk of wildfires that endanger other vegetation and the environment. It is also much more cost-effective. Lifecycle costs for trimming trees is more than 50 times the cost of maintaining cleared rights-of-way. Keeping costs low helps us to keep rates affordable for all our customers.
I’d also like to point out that tree species, growth rates and patterns, and the overall health of the trees are considered before we begin any work. In many circumstances, not all trees need to be removed. Lower growing vegetation such as shrubs, grasses and certain tree species which do not pose a risk to line safety and security will not be removed if they do not interfere with access to our lines.
SaskPower takes its responsibility to its customers and to the environment seriously. That’s why we are stepping up our efforts to keep trees clear of power lines. We ask that the public do their part as well by planting trees a safe distance from power lines, poles or other electrical equipment. More information about how to plant smart can be found at SaskPower.com.
Director, Distribution Asset Management and Planning