BULLHEAD CITY – Identifying the various causes for outages and providing reliable service to members is a priority for Mohave Electric Cooperative.

After documenting the number of outages caused by trees, a policy was established to address the problem.

According to the policy, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, MEC will incur the cost for trimming or removing trees in, or encroaching upon, power lines one time, but repeated efforts will involve a charge to the member or property owner.

Rick Campos, manager of engineering, operations, and energy services at MEC, said staff discuss options during the first visit, such as trimming or removal of a tree that may disrupt power to members. Property owners with trees pruned free-of-charge four years ago may now be subject to a charge if they have allowed it to grow back into power lines.

Approximately 750 trees have been removed and over 9,000 trimmed since the policy went into effect. The passage of four years means some may be back in the lines.

“If we have a signed acknowledgment, an MEC contractor will talk to the homeowner,” Campos said. “The property owner can pick their own professional landscaper to do the work, but if it is in the lines, MEC will trim it and the member may be charged.

“We value our members a great deal. If a member does not want a tree removed, an MEC contractor will trim it the first time, but it then becomes the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the limbs from repeatedly encroaching.”

The effort is to remove one of the leading causes for outages.

“This is about safety and system reliability,” Campos said. “Removing what has historically been one of the top three reasons members lose power obviously improves reliability.”

A right-of-way – most of which are 8-16 feet – provides the legal means for MEC to conduct work on equipment despite property ownership.

Campos said MEC understands some people have a bond with trees around a property, whether it be for aesthetic benefits or privacy.

“Provided there isn’t an immediate danger, we try to work with members prior to trimming or removal,” Campos said.  “Those opposed to the work can file a tree/shrub trim or removal refusal notice.”

The refusal does not come without risk. MEC will seek reimbursement for equipment later damaged by the vegetation.

Those who accept removal do so with an understanding another tree will not be planted under the power lines in the future.

“There are many benefits to planting trees around a home or business,” Campos said. “MEC supports planting trees to help reduce energy bills through Operation Cool Shade. But, it is a property owner’s responsibility to understand how tall and wide a tree may grow before they plant and to maintain the tree accordingly.

“It is our responsibility to provide a reliable source of power to our members.”

To report potentially problem trees, call (928) 763-4115 and press option 1 then option 3. Members can visitwww.mohaveelectric.com for additional information.