Nueces Electric Cooperative (NEC) recently celebrated Arbor Day with 2,000 trees, their biggest annual tree give away to date. Organizers say this popular event has grown by 500 trees each year and the Co-op is happy continue to grow the event as an effort to accommodate as many members as possible; and to put as many trees as possible back into the communities. This year the Co-op was more than prepared with plenty of trees and a convenient drive- through tree pick-up system.

In total, the Co-op gave out over 1,000 trees to members at the Ricardo, Ben Bolt, Robstown and Calallen NEC office locations.

The giving did not stop with NEC members. Additional trees were given to area schools, including 500 trees to Ricardo Independent School District, 110 to Driscoll ISD, 150 to Orange Grove ISD, 50 to San Diego ISD, 50 to Ben Bolt ISD, as well as the Agua Dulce Head start program and the Nueces County Master Gardeners.

"As a co-op we are doing as much as we can to be as community-focused and to give back to the member-owners of the Co-op. This event is a way we can thank members while doing something to reduce our carbon footprint" said John L. Sim, NEC CEO. "It's a win - win and the Co-op enjoys the chance to interact with members," he adds.

In the electric delivery business, trees are a blessing and a curse. While well placed trees can help reduce electric bills by providing shade in the hot summer and wind barriers in the windy winter, trees are the main source of power outages across the nation.

Plant trees on the west and north side of your home to provide mid-to-late afternoon shade. Additionally, plant to cover your air conditioning units, patios and drive-ways. During the summer months, well-placed shade trees and shrubs keep the hot sun from beating in home windows thus causing the air conditioner to work harder.

During the windy winter months, trees and bushes act as wind barriers by blocking cold air from hitting your windows and home siding; thus assisting to keep warm air inside your home.

Trees will not help prevent the hot, humid south Texas air leaking in or out through poorly sealed windows, or keep cold winter air from leaking in, but it will help by acting as an additional insulator for your windows and home siding.

When you have chosen your perfect planting spot, be sure to consider safety. Always look up, down and around for electricity and other utility wiring. Sometimes those underground wires are unseen.

"Due to soil erosion and previous underground line placement specifications, you may accidentally hit a line while digging, " said NEC Safety Manager Cassy Hill, "The solution is to use the Texas utility line-locating service offered free of charge. Simply dial 8-1-1 and within a few days you will know where those lines are buried in your yard."

Take tree placement into consideration. Remember trees can grow pretty tall and have expansive roots. Evaluate how tall your tree is expected to grow by reading the information tags or researching the tree online. If your tree could grow tall enough to tangle into the overhead power lines, plant the tree at least 40 feet away from the power line. Trees that touch power lines are not only hazardous during storms, but if your trees limbs are touching power lines, children who play in that tree could be electrocuted.

If you currently have a tree touching power lines, please call a professional tree trimmer or your power line maintenance company to come out and trim the trees for you. With hurricane season right around the corner, some pre-preparation will help you and your neighbors prevent power outages. For members living on Nueces Electric Cooperative power lines, call 1-800-NEC-WATT.

Responsible tree planting can be exciting as you watch your tree grow and mature. The benefit of trees are numerous with their natural production of healthy oxygen, their beautiful canopies, and as they serve as a natural resource and habitat for birds and other nature dwelling animals.

Nueces Electric Cooperative strives to be an active part of all communities and to give back in a variety of ways. Whether it is scholarships, Nueces Electric Charities community grants, community education presentations, or simply improving members quality of life by providing reliable and cost effective electric service, the member-owned Co-op proudly gives back to the community as much and as often as possible.

Yet, sometimes it's as simple as planting a tree that can make the biggest difference and give the most back today and every day.

Nueces Electric Cooperative, a member-built and owned electric cooperative since 1938, builds and maintains power lines for over 19,000 south Texas homes and businesses throughout eight counties. Additionally, the Co-op provides competitive retail electricity services to over 30,000 members throughout Texas. With roots planted deep in Texas, the Co-op continues to expand opportunities to the members and the communities they serve. For more information, visit www.nueceselectric.org.