Right-of-way tree pruning services will begin on Isle of Palms in mid to late August courtesy of Dominion Energy. Due to recent customer complaints of unsatisfactory tree maintenance along property easements in the East Cooper area, the utility company has been instructed to be more delicate with future trimmings.
In June, Mount Pleasant town staff issued a stop work order on Dominion's services following the impacts to historic Oak trees caused by recent pruning around distribution lines. In July, the town lifted the work order but not without setting some clear-cut parameters to "minimize negative effects on the health and aesthetic of protected trees."
At Isle of Palms City Council meeting on July 23, Dominion representatives gave a presentation to notify citizens of the upcoming work to be performed. Mayor Jimmy Carroll prefaced that it was a proper forum for Dominion to inform islanders exactly what to expect coming down the pipeline.
The project will encompass approximately 18 miles of overhead distribution lines throughout the city. Trimming will start on Palm Boulevard near Breach Inlet and then work its way to the far right side of the island toward Wild Dunes.
"Safety is our No. 1priority and No. 1 concern without question," said Bill Turner, Dominion's vice president of electric operations. "Safety of our employees, your employees, first responders that would be in and around a situation, customers and the general public. Tree trimming helps with all of those types of things."
Turner pointed out how Dominion tries to conduct these trimmings on a proactive basis. Generally, a city-wide trim occurs once every five years. The last time Isle of Palms' greenery was pruned was 2014. By a contracted company called Lewis Tree.
Turner also highlighted how due to recent trim work, according to Dominion's Electric System Reliability statistics, in 2018 customers were without power for an average of 96 minutes. Other state utility peers averaged 192 minutes.
As far as the distribution line clearing specifications, Dominion arborist and registered forester Clay Chaplain listed the following pruning policies to ensure no person or piece of equipment comes in contact with "the danger zone:"
- A minimum of 10 feet of clearance to side from outermost primary conductor (main electrical source).
- A minimum of 20 feet of clearance above highest primary conductor.
- A minimum of 10 feet of clearance below bottom most primary conductor or 4 feet below neutral.
- All service lines must be cleared for abrasion.
Chaplain noted that certain existing conditions on trees can preclude these clearances such as significant size parent limbs/leaders and large trunks that are located less than 10 feet from outermost primary conductor.
Dominion will host an public workshopbefore pruning begins at the Isle of Palms Recreation Center on Aug. 7 from 5-7 p.m. Property owners will be notified by mail or email approximately two weeks prior to the start of trimming in their area.