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News Release
Commission Orders Springfield Utility Board To Respond To Potential Electrical Hazards
December 5, 2000 (2000-055)
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Sipler Senior Utility Analyst 503-373-7451; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission today ordered the Springfield Utility Board (SUB) to step up efforts to trim trees near power lines in accordance with Commission safety standards and take steps to secure substations in order to reduce potential electrical hazards.
The Commission order is in response to safety inspections performed in late July and early August which turned up a large number of National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) violations in the Springfield Utility Board's service area.
Steve Loveland, SUB Manager, told the Commission the utility agreed with the staff recommendations and had taken steps to assure compliance.
"The utility has been responsive in correcting the problems and making commitments to correct the problems," Commission Chairman Ron Eachus said.
Overhead power lines shocked 30 people in Oregon last year and four of them died according to Commission statistics.
The PUC policy requires that five feet separate the branches of climbable trees from power lines carrying between 1,000 and 50,000 volts. For transmission lines the clearance must be ten feet from any tree.
The Commission order set specific deadlines and reporting requirements for the utility:
  1. Complete substation and security grounding/bonding compliance work on or before December 31, 2000.
  2. Provide an annual report of substation inspections. These reports are to cover the years 2001, 2002 and 2003.
  3. Meet two tree clearance program deadlines:
    1. By May 1, 2001, all readily climbable trees with inadequate clearance to power lines shall be corrected system wide to comply with the PUC tree Clearance Policy.
    2. By December 31, 2001 the entire system shall be brought into compliance with the requirements of the PUC Tree Clearance Policy.
  4. Maintain its entire supply system to achieve ongoing compliance with the PUC Tree Clearance Policy after the previous deadlines have been met.
  5. Provide an annual report to PUC staff covering the entire tree clearance program for years 2000 through 2005.
  6. Hire an experienced Utility Vegetation Management consultant to conduct a system evaluation and to provide recommendations for SUB's tree clearance program by March 1, 2001.
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