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PUC data shows a number of weather-related power outages in 2021 | Bradon's Barometer

The root of the problem is growing on your private property.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — In a report from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission this week, most electric companies did not meet reliability standards to customers for 2021.

But the problem wasn't because of aging infrastructure or resiliency of snow and ice, but trees on private property.

In a record 63 weather-related power outages that affected nearly two million Pennsylvania customers, non-right of way trees caused 37% of the outages.

The commission separates what they call "right-of-way" from private property trees, because those on a right-of-way are maintained by utility companies. Those trees caused approximately 5% of outages.

Credit: Pennsylvania Utility Commission
Sixty-three weather-related outages affected nearly two million customers last year.

Each utility company faces different weather-related issues, be it snow in the northwest or more tropical activity to the east. Storm-related power outages made up 25% of the problem in 2021.

"The issues that are a challenge for Met-Ed in York County are not necessarily the same in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh," Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said.

Credit: Pennsylvania Utility Commission
Private trees caused the highest number of outages in 2021.

"The reality is, we have weather all the time and we have storms all the time that don't disrupt power," Hagen-Frederiksen said. "What has been different about the storms driving the outages versus the storms that came through and didn't cause any problems?"

Those differences tend to be the off right-of-way private trees.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and local utility companies advise Pennsylvanians to consider what trees they are planting and where. Think about putting the right tree in the right space.

"Everybody does play a role," Hagen-Frederiksen said. "Things like planting trees during any utility line is something to be considered. Not just where it's located now, but how it's going to grow in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years."

It's a continuing conversation and an issue that is not going to go away. If you have questions or concerns about your property, contact your local power company or the commission. Issues and concerns on your property don't only affect where you live.

"You do have an impact on the service not just for yourself, but for those in your community," Hagen-Frederiksen said.

Until next time,

-Chief Meteorologist Bradon Long

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