Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. is initiating a three-year, enhanced tree-trimming program to help prevent storm-related power outages throughout Westchester County.

The company estimates that the new program, starting this month, could result in a 20% reduction in the number of outages experienced during major storms. The effort will also help minimize public safety hazards created by windblown branches and broken limbs that bring down live power lines.

“More than 50% of the outages experienced by customers during major storms in Westchester have been caused by tree-related damage,” said William J. McGrath, Con Edison’s vice president of electric operations for Bronx/Westchester. “The damage results in millions of dollars in recovery costs for municipalities and our customers. We recognize and understand, however, the importance of preserving the aesthetic and environmental value of trees in our communities, so we will conduct this program with the utmost care and with attention to long-term tree health.”

He added: “We have consulted with tree-care professionals and community leaders to ensure that appropriate tree pruning takes place with community involvement.”

The new initiative follows a series of outages triggered by overgrown trees in Westchester, particularly in September when tropical storm Ernesto battered the tri-state area. The storm downed trees, tree limbs and branches that extended onto power lines, causing outages to 76,000 customers in Westchester County.

“When a storm hits the area, accessing damaged equipment and restoring power as safely and quickly as possible are the top priorities of tree-pruning and electrical crews,” McGrath said. “So it’s best to proactively trim to minimize the amount of emergency work that’s needed later. Often these limbs pose risks to electric reliability and public safety, even during mild weather.”

Con Edison expects to trim approximately 85,000 trees annually in Westchester in a three-year cycle. Clearance will be 10 feet below, 15 feet above, and 10 feet beside a power line. Con Edison is working closely with municipalities and will contact homeowners by mail prior to implementing tree trimming in their neighborhood.