Stay clear of fallen trees next to power lines

The Electric Power Corporation (EPC) has urged members of the public to stay clear of trees that have fallen next to power lines during the cyclone season.

The public should also contact the EPC for assistance if it is difficult for them to cut trees that are close to power lines.

The EPC Chief Executive Officer, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali'ifano, made the appeal when discussing how the corporation responds to calls from the public during emergencies and natural disasters.

“During bad weathers and pending cyclones then they quickly call for help to cut down trees. But mind you, by that time everyone is calling EPC, so EPC cannot attend to everyone at a limited time with a vast demand all at the same time, which is why we end having so many complaints about the increasing phone calls not answered,” he said.

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Families can cut and shorten trees growing next to power lines, but Tologata said if it is not safe, they should call the EPC.

“But if it is not safe, then contact us to provide the assistance. But at the moment we have given a contract to someone else, a private contractor for tree clearing, then we give the clearance to the private contractors but we pay the contractors.”

He was also asked on how they operate during natural disasters and whether there were protocols guiding their work.

Tologata, in response, said: “We have our standard operating procedures on how to conduct our work. There are priorities under our emergency response plan in those guidelines it specifies the areas to give the first priority to in terms of reconnecting the power.”

The EPC also has guidelines to follow when addressing a power interruption in an area – especially if a tree has fallen on a line. Tologata indicated that the power to the affected area is taken offline from the national grid, until the matter is resolved and power restored. 

 “There is a protection within our substations that can sense something wrong, then it switches off an area and only when it has been patrolled and cleared, than power can be connected again,” he added. 

But a low voltage network directly connected to residents’ homes has no protection with the CEO stressing again that it is important to clear trees next to power lines. 

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