Disclaimer: I worked for an electric utility for 25 years. It was composed of people like me who worked hard to make the right decisions for the customers and the environment staying within the constantly changing, highly regulated laws. The opinion expressed here is my own. I was not paid by anyone. Oh yes, I love trees and hate to see them cut down or pruned into stupid shapes like mushrooms and footballs.
Some of you may remember that we (we meaning the east coast) had some bad storms over the last couple of years that left people without electricity for days or weeks. I was out for 26 hours and it was sheer hell. Life as I knew it stopped. I couldn’t do anything. My house got cold, my food got warm and I got cranky.
Some people were out for 2 weeks or more. The local normal average seemed to be about 5 to 7 days.
Our local utility was overwhelmed with storm work. Everyone was working long hours. They imported workers from other utilities to help out. It must have cost a fortune. Part of the problem was that the storms brought down many trees and with the trees came the lines. You can’t just string up the line, first you have to clear the trees. That takes time.
Am I making sense so far?
Back in the 80s or so, the electric utility had made the decision to cut the budget on right-of-way tree trimming. In hindsight, it wasn’t a good idea. There was a lot of budget cutting so I am not going to make judgments now. Hindsight is always 20-20.
The bad news is that trees grew and people forgot about the concept of right-of-way and easements.
Back to now. People bellyached pretty loud and clear about the outages not only to the utility but to the state Public Utility Commission. The utility made a commitment to restore big bucks to tree trimming to improve the reliability of the electricity. Everyone applauded.
That is until they started trimming trees. Of course people wanted the trees trimmed, just not the ones next to their property. Did you notice I said “next to?” You see over the past 20 to 30 years people took the liberty to plant trees, big trees, in utility right-of-ways. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Trees growing in the right-of-way areas get cut down.
Why did they plant them there in the first place?
Some people would plant a vegetable garden in the right of way so they didn’t have to dig up their own grass. That’s harmless but some people moved to planting trees. Big evergreen trees.
It made their yard bigger.
It gave them privacy.
It gave the kids shade for their plastic colored toys that are always at the end of the yard.
Some people may have bought the house with the trees already planted by the former owners. Here’s the thing. If it ain’t on your property, you don’t have control.
There has been an uproar about this in my area. Normally I don’t blog about controversial things but this is just stupid. One woman said her children were being adversely affected.
Did she fall off a turnip truck? Are our kids so fragile?
Good grief! I can’t say trees contributed much to my childhood one way or the other. Perhaps she’s looking for a settlement so her child can have long-term therapy or go to summer camp.
I don’t have a right-of-way easement on this property but I have had them in the past. The conditions were always that you plant (anything) at your own risk. What is so hard about that concept?
And yes, I do feel sad about the pruning of trees in yards and on the streets. We have to stop planting large-scale trees under power lines. There are alternatives.
Rant over. Normal programming will return.