Complaints about how the power company cuts trees to prevent power outages

Wednesday, June 30th 2004, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa shopping center manager thinks AEP-PSO is too eager to chop down trees that could be trimmed instead.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says it's a constant battle for the power company to keep trees off lines and it's a thankless job - people complain when the power is out and they complain when the trees are cut down.

At 81st and Yale, AEP-PSO plans to cut down most - maybe all of the trees under the power lines in the Plaza Shopping Center. Matt Davis didn't believe it at first when AEP-PSO told him his trees would have to go. "We're just afraid that one morning we'll come in and all these trees will be cut down."

Davis thinks the trees are too pretty to cut - and that losing them would make his shopping center look ugly. The limbs from those trees reach into an AEP-PSO feeder line that serves hundreds of homes and a police substation.

AEP-PSO plans to cut the trees to protect the lines. “We've been nursing these trees along for 20 years as you do anything in a shopping center because of the concrete and exhaust fumes but we'd hate to nurse something along for 20 years and then just throw it out." Most of the trees are unusually large - but inherently weak Bradford Pears, the others are Pin Oaks that appear to be dying. Both species can grow high enough to hit the lines.

When the power company cuts down trees it's almost always because they're directly underneath a power line. “It's not the height of the tree; we look at the potential height of the tree.” AEP-PSO forester Richard Bewley understands the confusion over why AEP-PSO cuts down some trees - but trims others. "In this case the trees were planted directly under the power line, and now the property owner is going to have to bear the burden of that bad decision, and our rate payers too, they're paying for us to come out and address that problem."

And AEP-PSO says it spends about $7-million a year to trim trees in Oklahoma. The company says it gets about 200 requests a week to trim back trees - but that they base their decisions on the importance of the line and the number of outages caused by the trees underneath it.