Estonia's State Forest Management Center (RMK) has agreed to help distribution system operator Elektrilevi to clear fallen trees and cut down those in risk of falling on powerlines.
Keit Kasemets, secretary general of the Ministry of Climate, said Sunday that RMK will join Elektrilevi's efforts to restore power to households and clear line corridors of dangerous trees starting Monday.
RMK board member Erko Soolmann told ERR that Elektrilevi did contact the forest manager and asked for help last Tuesday. RMK will spend Monday training its staff and contractors as most powerlines in question are live. "Only after completing training will RMK and its partners be allowed to join the repair effort," Soolmann said.
He added that places where outages have been most frequent have been mapped out. "After mapping out the powerlines, RMK got the necessary permits from the Environment Agency last Friday."
RMK will dispatch 150 employees and contractors to help Elektrilevi, next to 25 harvesters and tree shears. The cooperation is set to last until the year's end.
RMK contractors will be paid by Elektrilevi, while the forest manager will generate no revenue from the agreement.
Trees that have fallen or are in danger of falling on powerlines under the weight of snow have caused problems in several parts of Estonia, with Southeast Estonia worst affected.
Powerlines and the ground beneath them are the responsibility of Elektrilevi both on state and private land.'
Elektrilevi struggling to secure permits necessary for felling dangerous trees
The DSO has been having trouble securing permission from the Environment Agency to cut down trees in danger of falling on power lines in national parks and other protected zones.
For example, powerline corridors have a width of 10-14 meters in Lahemaa National Park and they cannot be widened before we secure a permit from the Environment Agency, said head of Elektrilevi Mihkel Härm.
The law allows medium voltage overhead powerlines to have a protective corridor width of 20 meters, while it is 25+25 meters for high voltage lines.
Elektrilevi hopes that extreme cases of people being stranded because of trees on roads and forced to go without power for weeks will help convince the environmental watchdog to lift the restrictions.
ERR has contacted the Environment Agency for comment.
Editor: Marcus Turovski