Helping residents make informed tree choices to protect power lines

The United Illuminating Co. (UI) has established programs to help replace damaged trees and spread public awareness of the importance of not planting trees where they will conflict with utility lines.

Planting appropriate species of trees in locations where they won’t interfere with overhead lines can reduce the need for utilities to remove or prune healthy trees that have grown too close to power lines, according to UI officials.

The programs were started after all the damage from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. United Illuminating is the main electric provider in Shelton, serving 17,825 customers in the city.

The electric company has a “Right Tree, Right Place” outreach campaign to educate customers about proper planting.

Provides grants to plant trees

Also, UIL Holdings Inc. (UI’s parent company) has established grants — dubbed Tree Renewal and Environmental Education (TREE) grants — to help community organizations replace trees lost during storms, and to make sure they’re planted where they won’t interfere with nearby utilities.

The grants include a public-education component, requiring recipients to spread the word about “Right Tree, Right Place.”

Some recent TREE grants have gone to:

— Fairfield Beach Residents Association to replace trees lost to Sandy.

— Milford Trees Inc. to plant trees at a park and playground.

— Groundwork Bridgeport to plant trees at Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo.

— Lordship Improvement Association of Stratford to establish trees and shrubs at Kidd’s Bluff and other town parks.

‘Helping the public make choices’

John J. Prete, chief operating officer of UI electric operations, said the company is “pleased to be able to help plant trees and beautify neighborhoods, while helping the public make choices that can avert some of the problems we’ve seen in the past when storms come through.

“Trees are an important part of Connecticut’s urban and rural landscape,” Prete continued, “and making the right choices when you’re planting can help ensure the trees are protected and don’t threaten nearby utility services.”

For information about “Right Tree, Right Place,” go to