SPRING VALLEY - Orange and Rockland Utilities has set a goal for itself in improving its preparation for storms in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

A spokesperson for O&R says the power company is working on a three-year, $35 million construction program with the aim of reducing electrical outages and speeding up the repair effort if outages do occur.

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One way O&R is improving its system's reliability is by expanding its tree-trimming program, especially near substations and along high voltage lines that serve large numbers of customers. They are trimming further up and further to the side to give those electrical lines more clearance. Officials say that if you lost power during Hurricane Sandy, it was most likely because branches and trees brought down power lines.

O&R manager Mark Beamish, who is an arborist, says this expanded trimming effort has one major goal. "Safety and reliability. We want to keep the trees back from the power lines to reduce the likelihood of outages when the wind does blow," says Beamish.

Control center director and head of substation operations for O&R Patrick Burke says they're placing major circuits underground where possible and using stronger and larger utility poles where they can't. They're also starting to use breakaway connections between the street and each house.

Edwin Ortiz, the utility's vice president for customer service, says O&R's customer response app will allow people to report outages and find out estimated restoration times.