|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Tree project finalizing
LIVINGSTON – Since October 2011, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative has cut down more than 150,000 dead trees in a $10 million proactive right-of-way maintenance effort. The recent drought killed hundreds of thousands of trees, many of which were threatening to fall on power lines, resulting in power outages for the Cooperative’s members. Right-of-way maintenance is not new to the Cooperative as crews regularly cut dead and danger trees throughout the year. However, this special emphasis on the project required up to eight times the resources normally used. Now that a year has passed, the Cooperative is in the final stages of the project and expects to be substantially complete by mid-November. The dead tree effort will continue into 2013 on a smaller scale in some areas. Sam Houston EC CEO Kyle J. Kuntz said the amplified dead and danger tree project was essential to reduce the risk of outages and potential fires across the Co-op’s more than 6,000 miles of distribution line, due to falling trees and limbs. Because of the costs related to this program, the Sam Houston EC Board of Directors elected to postpone capital credit payments this year. While the Cooperative has maintained financial stability and has paid capital credits on an almost annual basis, the Board has elected to postpone capital credits during years of extreme financial circumstances— as was experienced with Hurricanes Rita and Ike. Sam Houston EC memberowners did get substantial cash back recently as the Cooperative received a wholesale energy credit of more than $3.5 million, which was passed directly to the members on their September electric bills. Sam Houston EC received its charter May 16, 1939, and has been providing electricity to East Texas ever since. The Cooperative was founded by a handful of farmers and rural residents who dreamed of bringing “power to the people.” In the early 1940s, there were just over 600 Co-op members. Today, Sam Houston EC serves 52,000 members and 68,000 meters across parts of 10 counties.