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Eversource Works to Address Hazardous Trees

SPRINGFIELD — The drought plaguing the region is not only affecting water supplies and burning out lawns, it is also leaving trees around the state weak and vulnerable, with the potential to damage the electric system. As effects of the drought, coupled with the ongoing infestation by invasive insects, continue to threaten Massachusetts’ landscape, Eversource is working closely with the communities it serves to address the hazardous trees along roads across the state that threaten overhead electric lines.

“It has been a hot, dry summer, and our team of arborists is seeing telltale signs of stress like weakened branches and early fall color,” said Paul Sellers, Eversource’s Vegetation Management manager for Massachusetts. “We’ve seen the devastation storms can cause, and trees already in poor health are especially vulnerable to the effects of drought, raising even greater concern of them coming down in a storm, possibly taking down electric lines with them and causing power outages. Addressing the state of our trees is critically important to ensuring safe, reliable electric service for our customers, and we’re committed to collaboration with our communities and property owners as the changing climate drives more extreme drought conditions that weaken trees and threaten reliability.”

Eversource reminds customers that maintaining vegetation and trees is a shared responsibility between utilities, communities, and property owners. The energy company regularly performs maintenance work to clear branches, trees, and other vegetation that cause outages or are public-safety concerns and works with property owners to help them understand their responsibility to maintain their own trees, including keeping branches away from the lower-voltage service wires connecting their homes and businesses to the main utility lines of the street.

Eversource also encourages customers to work with them and give permission when needing to remove trees that are in danger of coming down and could possibly cause power outages. Customers should also check trees on their property for signs of stress — which may include thinning of the crown, loss of foliage, early color changes, and the presence of mushrooms near the base of the tree — and call a certified arborist to assess the situation.

“Trees that are experiencing drought-related stress may cease growing and commence premature leaf-drop,” said Rick Harper from UMass Amherst. “The lack of foliage may facilitate visibility to the upper canopy area of a tree, providing residents with the opportunity to monitor and report any visible conflicts that they may note with electrical lines.”

For details on Eversource’s comprehensive vegetation management program, visit eversource.com.

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