Tree Care

Trees and Wires

trees and wires

The city needs more large shade trees on private and public land. Why? Expanding the present tree canopy is crucial for DC to meet federal air pollution and water quality laws. The Mayor has committed to expanding tree canopy by 5% or 2000 acres by 2035.

If we’re to expand tree canopy, we must keep as many large trees as we can, because development and other activities inevitably removes mature trees.

Pepco’s policy of cutting “crotches” in large trees with overhead wires weakens them. It makes them more likely to fall in storms and winds–losing both the tree and electric service.

For decades the city has planted small trees along streets with overhead wires. This policy predates the new federal air and water agreements. It is time to review this policy, and consider undergrounding or other solutions, rather than planting trees which do little for pollution and lower property values.

Are trees responsible for electric power outages? A Washington Post investigation found:

“Pepco has long blamed trees as a primary culprit for the frequency and duration of its outages, implying that the problem is beyond its control. But that explanation does not hold up under scrutiny.”

Overhead wires are barred along Mass Ave and other principal streets by law. But just a few feet off Mass Ave, the streets are laced with poles and wires, as in many DC neighborhoods.

Restore Mass Ave urges more public discussion of the negative impacts of overhead wires on expanding the urban forest and property values.

Useful links

Restore Mass Ave letter to The Washington Post, submitted Dec. 9, 2010 (pdf)

Why Pepco Can’t Keep the Lights On, The Washington Post, December 5, 2010.

Restore Mass Ave Testimony before DC Council Committee on Public Service and Consumer Affairs, September 30, 2010 (pdf)

Michael F. Galvin, Deputy Director, Casey Trees, Testimony before DC Council Committee on Public Service and Consumer Affairs, September 30, 2010 (pdf)

Rethinking Overhead Power Lines, by Mark Buscaino, Leaflet – Casey Trees News, September/October 2010

Study of the Feasibility and Reliability of Undergrounding Electric Distribution Lines in the District of Columbia, Formal Case No. 1026, July 1, 2010 (Shaw Report)

Pepco Holdings, Inc. Hurricane Isabel Response Assessment, Final Report May 2004 (Witt Report)