PSO deals with struggles over protecting its power lines

Tuesday, August 9th 2005, 9:56 am
By: News On 6

PSO is in the midst of a power struggle with citizens who are upset over its handling of neighborhood business. Folks in midtown are looking at possible legal action to protect historic trees, while a little further east, neighbors are debating underground cabling.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler explains.

"They were incredulous that I would be so upset about this." Valerie von Hartitzch says she was shocked to learn what PSO was going to be doing to the trees she and her family planted nearly 30 years ago, but even more shocked to learn what would happen to a huge old oak tree. "The hundred year-old tree, this was here before statehood and the buffalo were grazing underneath it.' And it's healthy and it's fine. And they said that they were going to cut it out because it's on the easement and they were able to."

It's part of the electric utility's efforts to minimize power outages from squirrels, electrical and ice storms. Richard Bewley says its part of AEP-PSO's responsibility to the community. "We have to supply that service and we also have to maintain reliability of it. And so we prune trees to keep them out of the wires for about four years and ones that are going to grow into it continually, there's not enough room in the sky for both the wires and the tree."

But residents are frustrated with the way PSO is doing the work and the mess they say workers are leaving behind. Lloyd Prueitt wonders if it's driven by money. “In the last 17 years that I've been here, they've trimmed this tree three times, maybe $300. What they want to do is spend 3 or 4 thousand and take the tree out, and bill taxpayers."

"I would like to see them put the lines underground, or attempt to, and not say it's too expensive. When you get storms you get ice and they're much more vulnerable than they are if they're underground."

"Transformer right there. She's 80 years old. Right next to her driveway. Good luck." Charles Ketterer is protesting PSO's only underground wiring project, saying a transformer in his yard will ruin his property value. "This house is for sale because of this. My property value dropped $15,000 because of transformers."

Other midtown Tulsa neighborhoods are also upset about PSO's tree-trimming activities, but company officials say it's all about keeping the power going. The people the News on 6 spoke with are working with an attorney, who's exploring their legal options in protecting the historic trees.