Littleton Electric Light and Water Departments Details Benefits Flowing from Shade Tree Program

Massachusetts-based public power utility Littleton Electric Light and Water Departments (LELWD) recently provided details on the benefits that flow from its free shade tree program, which the utility has offered since 2016.

Over the course of the program, 452 customers have participated and LELWD has provided 1,100 trees.

The goal of the program is to help conserve energy by planting a tree in the right spot to allow shading in the summer to reduce the need for home air conditioning, and when the leaves drop, it will allow the winter sun in to help reduce home heating needs.

Customers also enjoy the other benefits trees offer, which include wildlife habitat, consuming carbon dioxide, and visual aesthetics (or enhancing their landscape).

Based on the National Tree Benefit Calculator, provided by the Arbor Day Foundation, it is estimated that a 1-inch diameter red maple will reduce 9 pounds of carbon dioxide and intercept 19 gallons of stormwater per year.

This means that LELWD’s program in total has reduced approximately 39,825 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of burning 19,987 pounds of coal. It also has intercepted approximately 84,075 gallons of stormwater, helping to reduce runoff and pollutants from entering our water supply.

As the trees grow to maturity, these environmental benefits will increase significantly, the utility said. The program is also a great way to counter criticism of the cutting of trees near power lines by planting new trees away from our lines, LELWD said.

The program has planted a variety of trees, including American Red Maples, Autumn Blaze Maples, October Glory Maples, and Sycamores trees -- all natives to New England.

Customers of LELWD can apply for up to 2 free trees per account during the application period, April (Arbor Day) – Labor Day. Customers are then provided with a map of their property, indicating acceptable and non-acceptable locations for their trees. The map highlights areas of energy saving potential, and the location is mutually agreed upon between the customer and LELWD.

The trees start between 5–7 feet tall and LELWD staff plants them by hand during Public Power Week.

 The program is funded under a utilities budget for energy conservation programs.

For utilities interested in learning more about the program, contact Connor Reardon, Energy and Sustainability Manager, Littleton Electric Light & Water Departments, at: [email protected].