New Rules Proposed For Tree Trimming By Utility Companies

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Tree trimming has always been a contentious point between public utility companies and homeowners, but thanks to a new set of proposed guidelines that debate can be put to rest.

“It’s been a pretty street, and now it looks like a tornado came through and took everything down,” said Ron Hall, who has been living in Wethersfield for decades.

But over the past few weeks, he says, the character of his neighborhood has changed. Tree trimming crews came in, showing no mercy for limbs and branches posing potential threats to power lines.

“[At] 7:30, 8 o’clock in the morning, woken up by chainsaws,” Hall said. “I go and looked outside and saw a bunch of guys climbing up trees, and they just started cutting. They just went a little too far. They could have trimmed a little more lightly.”

The trimming efforts were in response to the storms we’ve had over the past few years, from hurricanes to snow and ice, that knocked out power for thousands.

Branches came down and took power lines with them. As a result, the state and utility companies aggressively trimmed trees to reduce the chance of outages.

But Friday afternoon a revised set of guidelines came down from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority requiring utility crews to deliver advance notice to property owners before work is done. If owners object, they can file an appeal. The guidelines also apply to telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

Neighbors in Wethersfield say they’re pleased with the developments but wish something had been done sooner.

“I told my son to call them. “The lady across the street, she said, ‘Joe, I don’t like what those people did to you!” said Wethersfield resident Joe Mascaro.

Connecticut Light and Power released a statement that said: “It’s important to note that trees are the number one cause of power outages. We have seen a significant reduction in tree-related outages in communities where our arborists have worked to ensure clearances are maintained.”

These are only proposed guidelines, and PURA is looking for public comment. The final verdict will come down sometimes in early June.


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