Trees vs power lines


Old 06-11-01, 07:06 PM
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The local bankrupt power company's "Urban Forester" wants to trim the trees back from the three line voltage lines above my rear property line. The high voltage line terminates one lot to the north. These trees are worth a small fortune avoided air conditioning.

Many of the trees these specific crews touch they mangle, so I'm concerned about what they have the right to do vs what they will want to do.

As I look at the lines in question, I see two interesting things:
a. The lines are spaced apart, perhaps 6 or 7 feet. 3 foot clearance on each extreeme is a 12 or 13 foot swath.
b. The lines appear to have frayed insulation out in the open area above the neighbor's yard. Gee, if the line is ratty is free air, maybe they should replace the entire segment.

My questions are

1. What are modern practices for replacing these pole lines? Are twisted triple cables ever used, or only 3 separate Knob & Tube like strands through the open air? The trees would be much better off if they only pierced the canopy in one place instead of three.

2. By what authority do California utilities generally trim trees if the right is not conveyed by deeded easement?

3. What rights do I have in the matter?


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Old 06-12-01, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fayetteville, NY, USA
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I honestly can't answer some of your very specific legal-type questions, but can offer some general info that may help your understanding a little.

In my work as an electrical designer I maintain current copies of the specifications for several northeastern utility companies. One utility from Connecticut says they "require the right to gain access at all reasonable times to enter your premises to erect, remove, operate or maintain our facilities...", and goes so far as to say you must remove all obstacles, and that your property must be "capable of carrying heavy vehicles and equipment"!!! One of New York's utilities says essentially the same thing, but that "such access must be suitable for its intended purpose". So I guess if you have a mud bog on your land you'll have to pave over it in case one of their trucks ever needs to be driven on your land!

Sometimes it seems to me like utility companies hold all the cards. Their tree crews routinely absolutely butcher large, mature trees along our city streets, leaving them completely lopsided, without so much as a by-your-leave.

I have rarely seen distribution lines run in triplex or quadroplex aerial cables. They nearly always run three phases in free air with a grounded conductor at least slightly elevated from them to minimize damage to the phase conductors from lightening strikes.

I have one suggestion to get an answer to some of your questions regarding your rights, though: contact your public service commision. In theory at least they are supposed to be on the consumers' side, protecting us from the big, bad monopolistic power companies. They should be responsible for preserving your rights by restricting just how much power and authority the utilities have over us poor defensless individuals.

Which is not to categorically say that utility companies and their employees are all cruel and callous. Just that their crews can sometimes be a little over-enthusiastic in their efforts to protect their facilities, and your cooncerns seem quite realistic. If they were coming after my trees I'd be worried, too, based on some of the arborial skills I've seen them demonstrate!

Good luck, I hope you find what your looking for.


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