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Posted: February 28, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Take a bough

SSEMC awarded Tree Line USA honor

Submitted Photo/

Made in the shade: Keith Garner (SSEMC Director of Right-of-Way and Contractor Services), left, Beryl Budd (Senior Community Forrester with Georgia Forestry Commission, Sustainable Community Forestry Program), Jimmy Smith (SSEMC Right-of-Way Forem...

Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington is now the first and only EMC in the state to receive the Tree Line USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for its leadership in caring for trees while meeting service objectives. The Tree Line USA program acknowledges public and private utilities that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. The goal of the program is to promote the dual goals of safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees across utility service areas.

“We had already been participating in several community tree projects at area schools and senior centers when the Tree Line USA certification opportunity was presented to us,” said Victor Hurst, vice president of line services at SSEMC. “We felt that the ideals of Tree Line USA marry well with SSEMC’s philosophy of providing value to our members. Trees are a big part of energy conservation, which in turn helps our members save.

“Tree Line USA also emphasizes safety and proper planting, which is very important to Snapping Shoals. We try to be proactive and put trees in the right place so they won’t create hazards or problems in the future.”

In order to receive Tree Line USA recognition, Snapping Shoals EMC had to meet several requirements, such as following industry standards for pruning, planting, removals and trenching and tunneling near trees, as well as ensuring that employees and contract workers are trained in best practices. In addition to participating in community Arbor Day celebrations, SSEMC also sponsored and participated in several tree planting and public education programs designed to expand canopy and educate customers about the proper tree planting, placement and pruning.

“The community sees us trimming and removing trees, which has to be done to maintain our lines, but we want people to know that we are eco-conscious,” Hurst said. “Power companies and our natural resources can coexist.”

Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation is a consumer-owned electric cooperative providing electric service to approximately 94,000 homes and businesses in an eight-county area. Most of the utility’s service area is in Newton, Rockdale and Henry counties. Portions of DeKalb, Butts, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties are also included. The company’s headquarters is on Brown Bridge Road in Newton County.

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