Trees keep our communities healthy and provide beauty and shade to our homes. But, trees and power lines can be a dangerous combination, creating hazards and causing power outages. ReliabiliTree is proactively trimming trees across our service territory for your safety and the reliability of your electric service.
ReliabiliTree began as a pilot program in Wichita in 2010 and with its success has expanded across our entire service territory. The program has three components: trimming trees on a 4-5 year cycle, follow-up maintenance and repairs, and public awareness of the importance of tree trimming for reliability and planting the right tree in the right place.
Our goal with ReliabiliTree is to reduce the number of tree-related power outages by pruning trees then maintaining that vegetation by returning on a regular cycle. It's working. In areas where we have cleared lines of vegetation, tree-related power outages have dropped more than 60 percent. Additional benefits of tree trimming include a reduction in weather-related outages and wildlife-related outages.
ReliabiliTree helps improve electric service reliability by mitigating one of the main causes of power outages - vegetation near power lines. ReliabiliTree puts circuit clearance on a four-five year cycle. The program supports Westar's core value of safety for its employees, contractors and the public.
ReliabiliTree began as a pilot in the Wichita metro area in 2010 and is currently active in all regions of Westar's territory.
Our past approach to trimming trees has been on an outage-based priority system. For many circuits, this may mean trees are not trimmed for 8-10 years. With ReliabiliTree, we will trim trees on four-five year cycles.
It's important that we help our customers and communities understand the importance of keeping power lines clear of trees and other vegetation, not only for the reliability of their electric service, but for their safety and the safety of our employees. We meet with city and/or county commissions, city staff and homeowner/neighborhood associations to explain the program and answer questions. Our public education campaign consists of various methods for getting the word out, such as newspaper, radio, TV and outdoor signage. Customers will receive a door hanger with information about the ReliabiliTree program prior to work being done at their home. Contact information is included.
Trees and power lines are natural enemies. When trees come into contact with power lines, electric service is hampered and, more importantly, a dangerous situation is created for both the public and our employees in charge of keeping the lights on. In a nutshell, the goal of Westar's ReliabiliTree line clearance program is to balance safe, reliable service with preserving the health and appearance of trees.
In areas where we have cleared circuits of vegetation, tree-related power outages have dropped more than 60 percent.
We use a dot system to help crews identify trees that need attention. A white dot means a tree needs to be pruned. An orange dot means a tree needs to be removed. The dots are placed toward the bottom of the tree, if the tree is accessible. A door hanger with this information is left at each residence before work is started.
Like you, we appreciate the many benefits trees provide our homes and communities. That's why ReliabiliTree follows the same tree-pruning practices recommended by the International Society of Arboriculture and by the Tree Care Industry Association. The species of tree determines the amount of pruning. After pruning, the tree may look somewhat "stark," but over time it should fill out.
Crews are assigned work by electrical circuits. In some areas, multiple circuits feed a particular neighborhood. This is why you might see work performed near your house but not on the lines that serve your home.
Burying power lines is very costly and presents many challenges. Customers may experience longer interruptions with buried power lines because it takes more time to determine the cause and make repairs. Excavation work may also be required to diagnose and repair problems with buried power lines.
ReliabiliTree crews clear branches along lines in the utility easement (from pole to pole). Trimming along service lines from the pole to the home is the customer's responsibility. Upon request, Westar will temporarily remove the service line so customers can have branches along the service line trimmed. We will return to reattach the service line once the customer notifies us the work is complete. Depending on the situation, Westar may trim trees or remove vegetation. Call Vegetation Central at 855-WESTAR-5 to schedule this service.
The Tree Growth Regulator “ShortStop” is supplied by Plant Growth Management Systems, LLC. and is specifically formulated to be used by arborists to slow the annual growth of trees. It also indirectly creates additional benefits that help trees withstand urban stress, such as poor soil, limited root space, drought conditions and wind damage. The application is sub-soil; either basal drench around the trunk of the tree or soil injection. Growth and re-growth control on trees varies between 2-4 years depending on the length of the growing season.
The active ingredient in ShortStop is Paclobutrazol (22.3%). This product is specifically formulated to resist movement from the application site. It is water insoluble and can be applied throughout the year.
A Westar vegetation employee will work with a city representative to identify candidate trees and mark them with a green dot. Then we will notify the adjacent landowner of the upcoming TGR application and answer any questions. If no objections are presented, our contractor will apply the TGR to marked tree(s). All work will be tracked in a digital database and available to the City upon request.
A two-person crew will utilize a small gas powered pump/tank system to administer the sub-soil application. This machine will be transported between sites utilizing the hitch receiver on the rear of a pickup.