AMP and Our Community
Improving Our Neighborhoods
We not only endeavor to be a good corporate citizen, we work to be a good neighbor, too. AMP undertakes special projects, such as leading utility undergrounding districts and working to maintain the health of our City’s trees, in order to enhance our surroundings and make Alameda a better place to live and work. While we’re proud to serve you, we also want to serve you as unobtrusively as possible.
Your priorities are AMP’s priorities. We undertake special civic improvement projects at the direction and guidance of the Public Utilities Board and City Council. Projects are coordinated with other City departments and utilities to minimize impacts to the neighborhoods and maximize results. AMP appreciates the confidence customer-owners have placed in us.
Alameda’s trees have long been considered a part of our community’s unique quality of life. In the mid 1800s, Alameda was part of one of the largest coastal oak forests in the world, and at the time, our community also was known as the “Encinal (oak grove) Island.” The name Alameda (grove of poplar trees or tree-lined avenue) was chosen for our city by popular vote in 1853.
AMP values our community’s trees, and their well-being is an important consideration in our operations. While approximately half of Alameda’s electric system is underground, many neighborhoods are served by overhead lines. State law requires us to maintain specific clearances, depending on line voltage, between power lines and all vegetation. These distances have been established to ensure public safety and reduce outages.
And when the winds howl and the rains fall, we're prepared. We take action during good weather to make sure systems stay on during the bad weather. Part of our excellent reliability record is the result of a responsible tree-trimming and facilities maintenance program. Our tree-trimming program takes the health and aesthetics of our community's tree canopy into consideration, as well. AMP and the City contract with arborist firms for most tree-trimming needs. Additionally, we look for alternatives to aggressive pruning wherever possible.
A Case Study
During a past summer, it became apparent that heavy tree growth soon would engulf some electric distribution circuits along Benton Avenue, a residential neighborhood. We were faced with a dilemma, aggressively cut into the trees – an unpleasant option - or fall out of compliance with State law and potentially compromise safety – an unacceptable option. However, our engineering and line personnel developed a third alternative. Two sets of lines ran along Benton Avenue, a standard 12,000-volt primary circuit and a typical 120/240-volt secondary circuit to serve a residential area. State law requires a 4-foot clearance around the standard primary line but only minimal clearance to prevent abrasion and loading of the secondary circuit. Reconfiguring the circuitry serving the Benton Street area would allow the primary lines to be removed and would reduce greatly the need to trim around secondary lines. The distribution system subsequently was reworked, and Benton Street trees now retain their majestic stature.
Tips on Safety and Trees
While appreciating our City’s trees, please help ensure safety by never allowing children to climb trees growing near power lines and never pruning trees near power lines. For expert advice on tree health, consult an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. The Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute, based at the California Polytechnic State University, maintains an excellent online tree resource at http://selectree.calpoly.edu/right_tree.html.