November 26, 2012
Citizens of Monroe are shocked by something we shouldn’t be: New England weather.
The surprise to Connecticut residents isn’t limited to the increasing frequency of severe weather (the landfall of Sandy for example), and winter’s approach brings the potential for more bad weather, as our northern climate might expect. But we are shocked by the fact that we are expected to brace our families, homes and businesses for utility outages, which consistently cripple the town, and how preventable these outages could be.
Since the source of power is weatherproof (the dam has yet to fail us), the real source of the outages falls on the backbone of our electric infrastructure: wires are downed by trees that are simply not maintained properly. Any guidelines in place for tree maintenance and trimming are obviously inadequate, and far more clearance for wires is necessary. A new ordinance governing this should be prepared and enforced, restricting growth and the planting of new trees in order to prevent future problems.
In the early 1900s, these trees were new on what had been farmland, and with no power lines to consider and the boom in population, no ordinance or guidelines were established to prevent the problem we now face. Monroe lacks guidelines on tree height that would prevent them growing past a safe point. Time and again we have seen the result.
Outages cost local businesses greatly, and as a licensed arborist, forester and engineer, I know that it is an expense that could be prevented. As a 40 year resident and business owner in the town of Monroe, I’d rather spend money upfront on a long-term solution than suffer losses caused by weather we should know to expect.
An assessment of the lines and substations that link the dam to town offices, fire departments, business districts and schools should be completed with electricity providers Connecticut Light & Power. Monroe also has many tree and landscape professionals who are qualified to help establish guidelines for an ordinance along the path of these important wires. The clearer green space that would result could potentially double as a bike lane or trails that would enhance our quality of life in Monroe.
I’d like to request the Town Council and Monroe Land Trust work with these professionals to find a solution, and soon. With “100 Year” storms hitting us on an annual basis, there is a need for some urgency. Hurricanes and Nor’easters have already haunted us this season, and we’re barely to December. The coming months could bring much more trouble our way. How long until a “500 Year” storm where we have larger concerns, in addition to this problem, should we fail to act? This is not a time to be passive.
An ordinance regulating tree height and distance from these wires will not only help residents maintain healthier trees and protect their own property, but also serve to protect the community from costly and dangerous power outages.
President Country Green Inc.