Florida Power & Light Company was honored yesterday by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) with a Community Advocacy Award for its Right Tree Right Place education program. The presentation took place in Scottsdale, Arizona. Right Tree Right Place is a public education program based on FPL's core belief that providing reliable electric service and sustaining our natural environment can go hand-in-hand.
Small, immature trees planted today can grow into problem trees in the future. Selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place around power lines can eliminate potential safety hazards and improve the reliability of electric service. In addition, trees can achieve the proper height and form desired. The Right Tree Right Place program guides customers through the selection process for just the right trees to be planted adjacent to overhead power lines. For example, to assist customers with their landscape design plans, there is information about many trees' ultimate, mature size. The information is categorized by region (South Florida and North/Central Florida).
The Right Tree Right Place education program took on renewed importance in the wake of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons as thousands of trees planted too close to power lines were toppled during the storms causing interruptions to electric service. Along with the clean-up, customers began replanting vegetation lost as a result of the devastating winds.
FPL took this opportunity to immediately advocate for the careful consideration of the mature height of vegetation planted adjacent to power structures. Advertising, messages on customer bills and a personal mailing to thousands of local and state officials on post-hurricane issues and initiatives, contained information and advice about Right Tree Right Place. Beyond these efforts, more than 20,000 copies of brochures on the subject of trees and power lines were distributed to homeowners' associations, town meetings, schools and other groups and individuals. An expanded section of www.FPL.com was also used as a tool for further advocating this important issue.
Soon, more than 4000 homeowners' associations will receive a newsletter article summarizing tree planting and tree trimming guidelines. A video, "Our Family Tree," which presents the concepts of Right Tree Right Place and the program's objectives can be found in nearly 300 Blockbuster video stores for free checkouts, in more than 200 county libraries and at 18 community cable access channels as part of FPL's advocacy program. An arboretum at Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter, FL campus offers additional opportunities for education. FPL's Right Tree Right Place program guidelines are available at www.FPL.com.
In a separate ceremony this week, EEI presented FPL with two awards for its restoration achievements. First, the Emergency Response Award was presented to the company in recognition of its restoration achievements in the aftermath of both Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, which impacted FPL's service territory in 2005. Second, EEI honored FPL with its Emergency Assistance Award for aid the company provided to Louisiana-and Texas-based utilities following Hurricane Rita, which struck the Gulf Coast in late September 2005.