Utilities urge caution when cutting trees

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(Host) With fuel prices up, many Vermonters are turning to wood heat. 

But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, that’s causing a significant number of power outages due to careless tree cutting near power lines.

(Keck) Central Vermont Public Service says it’s not unusual to get a call from a customer who’s accidentally cut a tree down that’s hit a power line.     Spokesman Steve Costello says what’s worrisome this year, is how often it’s happening.

(Costello) "We think that a lot of people who have never cut wood before are cutting wood for the first time this year.  As a result, we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of people having problems – particularly people cutting trees and dropping them accidentally on power lines.  We’ve had over 50 incidents already this year, which is up 20-30 percent from a typical year."

(Keck) In one of the most recent incidents, Costello says, a homeowner in St. Albans accidentally dropped a tree onto a power line.  Ignoring the fact that he was in grave danger, Costello says the man kept cutting and he and young children who were playing in the yard remained in close proximity to the utility line.

(Costello) "The line could have been alive and he could have been severely injured or killed and so could the children around him."

(Keck) Costello says, ideally, customers should not cut any tree that’s near a power line.  But if someone feels a tree does need to come down and there are concerns, he says they should  call a professional or call CVPS for assistance.   

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck.

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