Local News

Trees Near Raleigh Power Lines Facing the Ax

Posted September 25, 2007

— Progress Energy's decision to cut down, instead of prune, trees near high-voltage power lines is causing a stir in one Raleigh neighborhood.

Faced with new federal regulations that require the utility companies to prevent power outages caused by vegetation, the utility company plans to cut down about 50,000 trees along transmission lines in North Carolina and South Carolina, because it does not have the resources to keep them pruned.

"It's like death row," said Judy Austin, who lives in the Meredith Woods subdivision, where decade-old oaks, maples, pines and cedars are slated to come down. "All of our trees are just waiting."

"We're just trying to get Progress Energy to take a step back and reconsider," she added.

Crews chop down the trees and grind the branches and trunk, but stumps stay.

"The rules have changed. New federal regulations require that our company take steps to prevent transmission power outages caused by vegetation," said Progress Energy spokesman David McNeill.

Some homeowners – such as Martha Siedenstein, who has a 38-year-old tree in her yard – have offered to pay for pruning but said Progress Energy declined the offer.

"I'm willing to save that tree. Whatever it takes, I'm willing to do – to save that tree," she said. "That's how much it means to me."

McNeill would not comment on whether exceptions would be made or why the company declined Siedenstein's request.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said city leaders don't have the authority to intervene but that he is urging the company to save as many of the trees as they can.


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  • jupiter judy Sep 26, 2007

    Progress Energy is mandated by the Federal Govt to establish and maintain a vegetation maintenance program. I read the mandate and nowhere does it require a utility to cut down all the trees. There are many criteria that PE should use in formulating its plan - tree growth, tree longevity, the amount of sag on a line, how close to the pole the line is....and many more. PE could have opted to trim some trees that are in the easement. There are many trees that are waaay below and beyond these high power lines some of which have finished growing but they are slated for destruction anyway. PE says they must cut rather than trim due to a shortage of resources. Progress Energy is short of resources? How much did the CEO take home last year? Millions. People in my neighborhood understand that some trees pose a hazard and must go. But some of the trees that have been marked will never pose a hazard.

  • Karmageddon Sep 26, 2007

    Progress Energy is following federal guidlines set forth by the government because of the great northeast blackout several years ago. Imagine what the fines would be if they did not adhere to these guidelines and there was a great southeast blackout.

  • Panther Sep 26, 2007

    Jethro, grab the chain saw, we are fixin to get our winter supply of wood.

  • dmpaltman Sep 26, 2007

    Transmission lines do not run down every street in Raleigh. They are normally on tall metal structures or metal poles. The lines running down the street are distribution lines, if a tree gets into these lines, it causes a more local outage for that area alone. On a transmission line, if a tree grows into it, it has the potential to affect a major part of Raleigh.

  • Steve Crisp Sep 26, 2007

    To then who cares:

    Fine. You love your trees? Then pay Progress Energy about $800 to bury the lines at your house. And get all your neighbors to do it as well. Then you can keep your trees. Until then, keep them away from the lines cause when your tree brushes them, they short out, blow the breaker, and MY power goes out.

    Oh, never bothered trimming them as you are obligated to do by your easement agreements? Then who are you going to blame when Progress Energy takes them down in order to protect THEIR investment? That's right. Developers. Those same heinous developers who bury their lines already in every new subdivision built today.

    Seems like THEY are the ones who actually care...

  • then who cares Sep 25, 2007

    They're too busy lining their pockets and building their fancy homes to worry about the likes of people who value nature!!

  • ArkAngels Sep 25, 2007

    They are not talking about "trimming" trees here, they are cutting them down and leaving the mess for the homeowners to clean up. Wrong answer!

    Our power company did the same thing earlier this year, BUT, they came and told us what trees they wanted to TRIM and if there were some that were dead, they offered to take them down at no charge to us and take off the trees and cleaned up to boot.

    If Progress Energy wants to trim trees, that is fine, but they should have to clean up the mess they make and not leave it for the homeowner.

    Or the homeowners can do what I did recently when DOT tried their hand at trimming trees and left a mess. I raked it all up and left it in their right-of-way so the next time they came along they had to clean up their mess before they could mow. Of course I did call and tell them about the mess they had left and had it piled up for them when they came around to pick up before they mowed. But I was not hauling off their mess.

  • Steve Crisp Sep 25, 2007


    This is a direct result of the city of Raleigh having an ordinance mandating that trees only be pruned FIVE feet from power lines rather than the standard 15 feet that all other intelligent communities which value humans over vegetation have in place.

    When I first found out about this some ten years ago, I tried to find out why it was so and was told that "we value our trees." So the city's valuation finally caught up with them.

    And it's about time. This will prevent a ton of outages during ice storms, severe thunderstorms, and even high winds. And I may be wrong, but I think Progress Energy's definition of transmission lines include all those three phase feeder lines that run all over the city. Yes, they are the thick ones.

  • suamme1 Sep 25, 2007

    This sounds like a good plan to me... Un trimmed trees are a major contributor to the huge power outage that affected the northeast a few years ago.

  • houdie1031 Sep 25, 2007

    How can we tell which trees are target'ed? It says "transmission lines". Is this every line we see going down the street? or is it the thicker high-power lines? How about some ideas about what trees we can plant to replace these trees? What Tree-cutting company Lobbyist got hold of the FEDS? NO BRADFORD PEARS, Please.