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Utility tree trimming policies outrage homeowners

(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David Andrew)

(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member David Andrew)

One Texas homeowner pulled a gun on a utility tree trimming crew during a storm last winter. Another parked his Hummer under a tree so crews couldn't trim it. "We've had to get restraining orders," says Jeamy Molina, spokeswoman for Oncor, the state's largest power company.

Texans are not alone in their frustration with utility tree-trimming practices. Nationwide, homeowners decry situations in which their private property — a tree — on private land, is radically cut or even removed without their consent when the utility company deems it a threat to power lines.

Public outrage in Indiana led to a 20-month investigation by the state's Utility Regulatory Commission. The upshot was an 111-page finding in November that mandates all state utilities follow standards for proper pruning as outlined by the International Society of Arboriculture, something the industry says it's already doing. Those standards support alternatives to topping as the best way to save the tree while also protecting the power line.

The Indiana commission says it found numerous examples of utility companies topping trees, but it doesn't have the authority to fine them. It began meeting Dec. 15 to hammer out how the ruling will be enforced.

Stephen R. Cieslewicz, president of CN Utility Consulting in California, is a retired utility arborist and helped write the ISA standards. "I'd be the first to admit trees that are pruned properly can end up looking like a 'V' or an 'L,'" he says. "[The pruning] really seems dramatic, but that's the correct way to do it."


Comments

This article hit me because our local utility company took down many, many trees in our neighborhood, and we have UNDERGROUND utilities here!! we fought taking down a beautiful tree in our front yard, and they let us keep it ... the only one saved in our circular dead end street ... other neighbors didn't think about the loss of the protection of those full grown trees, which were shading our homes from the morning sun. There has been no progress with replacements because frankly there isn't anywhere in the curbs where they were removed to replant without recreating the same situation they claimed to be removing. What a terrible loss to this neighborhood, and looks like neighborhoods all over the country!!

I called Pepco and insisted that I be present when the came to trim the trees. In the end we agreed on what should be done (I was there) although the minute I turned my back they trimmed a bit more. In the end, the ice storm broke off a huge limb that their of us suspected would fall or injure anything. It missed the main electric wire only by the grace of G-d,

I resigned as tree warden of Coventry R.I. after the acting town manager allowed National Grid to return to Town after ignoring permit requirements. The damage that was done was in direct contradiction to ANSI standards. As a result, some trees have actually died from overpruning.

my utility company aep ohio and asplundhi are butchering trees going on to peoples property when they are not home butchering trees and property they successfully shorted my only house i owned out and just walked away by letting a log fall on my transformer knocking off the wire leaving 22o volts going into my home shorting everything out and burning my wiring which left me without a home and to top it all off i was not home i noticed my tree had been cut not trimmed and none of these guys spoke any english im so beside myself and they dont take any blame either very dangerous and they dont care they are trying to stop branches from falling before it happens they are leaving the trees top heavy and they are gonna fall or cause the snow to fall and hurt someone or destroy a home this needs to be stopped

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