Draft decision on tree trimming by utilities released


(WTNH) — State regulators on Friday released a draft decision on the rules and procedures utility companies must follow when trying to trim or cut down trees near utility poles and power lines.

In a news release the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA, said:

Going forward, utilities will be required to deliver notice to property owners before pruning or removing any tree or shrub within prescribed zones. A property owner may object to proposed pruning or removal by notifying the utility and the local tree warden or, in some instances, the Commissioner of Transportation. The tree warden must then respond, following consultation with the property owner. If either the property owner or the utility objects to the tree warden’s ruling, either may appeal to the PURA, which will hold a hearing and rule on the matter.

LINK: Read the Draft Decision from PURA (.docx file)

Utilities will have to follow regulations developed by a group of volunteers who formed the State Vegetation Management Taskforce. Here is their final report.

The ruling affects not only power companies such as Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, but also telecommunications companies including AT&T and Verizon.

Powerful winter storms, as well as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, caused hundreds of thousands of power outages as trees and branches brought down power lines. Over the past few years utilities have been aggressive, some say too aggressive, in cutting back trees near power lines in an effort to keep the lights on.

This isn’t the final word. People can file objections to the plan before June 6. Arguments will be heard on June 10, and a final decision will be made the next day, June 11.

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