Trees or electricity?

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.

  • SD from WI

    Xcel suggests this wouldn’t be a big deal if people would just plant trees in the right place-

    I don’t think there were that many people planting trees in Woodbury 30 years ago.

  • Bob Collins

    I believe the older sections of Woodbury were developed about 40 years ago, actually.

  • Joel

    Seems to me all sides need a reality check. $1 million a day is really an outrageous fine; Xcel should strive to keep trees intact wherever and whenever possible and yes, people should be more aware of where they are planting trees that could get in the way of power lines.

  • bsimon

    Tough call. We have an old oak in the backyard that was already mature by the time our house was built & power was brought in (50 years ago). So the power runs under part of the tree – a utility pole is shaded by the tree. If that tree comes down – which it eventually will – I won’t be able to plant a new tree in the same place, according to excel guidelines.

  • Zeb

    The most valuable trees are those that are old and established. In some cases, they sprouted up long before the power lines. This is where a local electric cooperative is much nicer to have. They listen to their members’ opinions.

  • bigalmn

    We have schrubs planted in front and on the sides of the ugly green box Dakota Electric put in our front yard to house their equipment. Luckily I did not but any where the box opens or they likely would have been gone when Dakota Electric had to fix something a couple of years ago.

    It was interesting to note in the article that the tree trimming relates to the high voltage transmission lines. I am guessing some of the trees that were cut where not by high voltage lines, but local lines. Maybe the utility company does not know the difference.

  • C


  • Rick

    Whoa! Wait a minute if there is such a congressional order to “TRIM” trees near power lines; why are they being cut all the way to the ground. What precise Federal Law authorizes this type of butchering? This I want to read. I just talked to an Excel engery person who said he knows of no law which authorizes trees to be cut completely down. What about peoples right to “notice” and “due process of law”. Are these trees being butchered because there is a possibility of a disaster sometime in the future? How riduculous would it be to cut down telephone poles because there may be a disaster which may eventually knock them down on a house? GOOD GRIEF!! WHY IS IT THAT IN MANY STATES TREES ARE AN ASSET TO THE BEAUTY OF THE COUNTRY ROAD AND IN MINNESOTA IT IS CHOP CHOP!!? Has anyone out there located the Federal Law which is supposed to authorize the complete demise of a mature tree, just because its branches may need trimming? NOT HAPPY!! RICK