CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Hurricane Florence arrives later this week, its heavy winds and constant rains could pose problems for electricity, including more than 10,000 miles of power lines on Duke Energy's tree trimming waitlist.
Records filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission in January show Duke Energy Carolinas has a more than 10,000-mile backlog in its vegetation management program.
"...the Company would not need to address the 10,000 mile back-log if a proper, cyclical vegetation management program had been in use by the Company prior to 2013," the state filing said.
As a result of that state meeting earlier this year, Duke Power Carolinas agreed to invest more resources in tree trimming.
Duke Energy spokesperson Randy Wheeless said the company is increasing its funding for tree trimming by 25 percent or $20 million this year.
"We are upping our spend to $100 million in 2018 (and going forward) to erase that back-log in five years," Wheeless said. "We're increasing the money we're spending, we're doing more than we were a few years ago, we're chipping away at any shortages we have, because it's important work."
Duke Energy's tree trimming program runs year-round. Crews spend some of their time on maintenance near power lines and the rest clearing limbs in an effort to prevent smaller outages. Wheeless said North Carolina alone is home to 190,000 miles of power lines.
"We do have a category called hazard trees, trees that we know that would be in danger if we have a hurricane or a big storm, so we definitely focus on those," he said. "As we've had some hurricanes, we've started to upgrade how much we can do a year."
Wheeless said while tree trimming reduces the risk of small power outages, no matter what they do, bigger trees will always be at risk of falling, which means large outages will always be a possibility.