Half of the power outages in Oak Ridge this year have been caused by falling trees and tree limbs, Electric Director Ardo Ba told City Council on Tuesday.
Since January, vegetation has accounted for about 50 percent of power outages, Ba said.
Animals such as squirrels and snakes have caused about 13 percent of the power outages in the past six to seven months, and equipment failures, traffic crashes, and other causes have accounted for roughly 37 percent of the outages, Ba said.
Ba provided some details about significant power outages this year. The largest outage occurred on July 8 on Tuskegee Drive near a city fire station, when a transmission line switch caught fire. More than 8,400 people power.
The next largest outage was caused by a tree falling on a transmission line on Wiltshire Drive on May 27. The 150-foot tree that fell on the transmission line had been well outside the right-of-way, Ba said. That line provided a main feed to two substations, and more than 7,200 customers lost power when the tree fell on the transmission line.
In another outage, two snakes got into a substation on July 8 and knocked out power to about 1,400 customers. There was significant damage, but crews were able to restore power.
In another outage, one tree that fell on Montana Avenue on May 6 took out four poles. More than 400 people lost power, and it took eight to nine hours to rebuild the poles, Ba said.
A single tree limb that fell on power lines on Pennsylvania at Vermont Avenue during strong, windy storms on May 28 also knocked out power to more than 400 people.
Ba cited other cases, including a tree limb that fell on lines on West Outer Drive on June 11 and a bad transformer that caused outages on Whippoorwill Drive.
Ba, who was named electrical director this month, said the Oak Ridge Electric Department is doing more tree-trimming now and talking to home owners and property owners about trees that could pose a threat to power lines. Ba also discussed other potential changes to the transmission circuit, such as buying certain circuits and breakers and trying to provide more redundancy for distribution lines.
Ba discussed the outages with the Oak Ridge City Council during a non-voting work session on Tuesday. You can watch the meeting here. You can see the agenda here. Ba’s presentation was the second item on the agenda.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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