Local News

Trees Near Raleigh Power Lines Facing the Ax

Posted September 25, 2007 7:05 p.m. EDT

— 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.