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Utilities are trimming trees in case Florida is threatened by severe storms this hurricane season

St. Pete Beach, Florida.Hurricane season has begun and energy providers are preparing.

Part of the job involves trimming branches that could fall and leave you standing in the dark. Some people don’t like the way trees look after they’ve been trimmed back by contractors, but others say as long as the lights stay on, they can live with it.

As part of its regular tree trimming schedule, Duke Energy Florida sent a team of arborists to Frank Caldas’ home in St. Pete Beach.

They trimmed his oak tree to comply with guidelines regarding the distance between branches and power lines.

β€œIt looks like a V because the line goes through the middle of the tree,” Caldas said.

The large cut down the center of its oak roof may not be aesthetically perfect, but it can help keep the lights on during a big storm.

READ: Tropical observation: Disturbances in the Atlantic could intensify into tropical storm Beryl over the weekend

“This is absolutely critical for us in a process we call storm hardening,” said Ana Gibbs, spokeswoman for Duke Energy Florida.

Utility arborists oversee the work of tree care companies, trimming branches to prevent fires and power outages, and even using helicopters with saws to reach trees that are difficult to reach on the ground.

Should a power outage occur, Duke is using new self-healing technology to quickly restore power in some cases without having to dispatch linemen.

READ: What is worth investing in during hurricane season?

The technology reroutes electricity to reach affected areas via other power lines. If you have a tree caught in power lines, Duke Energy asks that you contact them online or call them at the number printed on the back of your bill.

Gibbs says Duke comes back every three to five years to make sure no branches grow back onto the lines.

Caldas says that after the last pruning of its branches, the tree regained its weight and looked better after about six months.

β€œI feel safer because I will not lose power,” he said.

The utility warns that people should never try to cut power lines away from a tree themselves, as the tree may be live. Duke says they are analyzing some sites to determine if power lines should be placed underground rather than above ground. However, they say if something goes wrong with an underground line, it takes much longer to repair than an above ground line.

Gibbs says any cuts made now could prevent a power outage later in the busy season with severe storms that experts predict.

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