Your trees or your electricity? Which would you rather have?
USA Today reports on the results of a congressional order that electric utilities trim trees near power lines. The bill was passed in 2005 but wasn’t to be enforced until last year “to give the utility companies time to comply.” And you thought it was a do-nothing Congress.
Fines could be up to $1 million a day, which explains why utility companies have been hacking trees faster than Paul Bunyan and Babe ever could.
Last year, for example, Woodbury officials tried to halt Xcel’s plan to cut trees that were more than 30 years old. After a day or two, the tree-cutting crews went in unannounced and leveled the trees. At $1 million a day, who’s got time to negotiate? The situation still rubs city leaders the wrong way.
It’s a familiar theme and complaint. In Burnsville last month, a woman, said to be known for her landscaping and gardens, lost spruce trees in her yard. She tried to negotiate with Xcel to trim the trees instead of cut them down. Xcel cut them down.
Xcel suggests this wouldn’t be a big deal if people would just plant trees in the right place.