Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Greensboro takes Duke Energy tree complaint to regulators

Continuing a dust-up that began months ago, the city of Greensboro this week filed a formal complaint about Duke's tree-trimming practices with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Residents of some of the city's oldest, leafiest neighborhoods began complaining last December that Duke was over-pruning trees that could hit power lines. So many complaints poured in that Duke, under threat of legal action by the city, agreed to a temporary halt to work out their differences.

"Vegetation management," as utilities call it, is a hot-wire because it can disfigure trees. Utilities say it's necessary to reduce power outages.

In June, after months of meetings, Greensboro's city council adopted a new ordinance regulating tree-trimming by utilities. But the measure didn't resolve all issues, and Duke and the city agreed to take their differences to the Utilities Commission.

The city wants Duke to remove large wood trimmings when property owners ask; agree to a local appeals process; apply pruning standards citywide; and shorten the period between trimmings to four to five years, making them less severe.

Duke hasn't yet replied to the city's complaint.