5 On Your Side

Residents voice concern over Duke Energy tree removal process

Posted July 29, 2015 5:45 p.m. EDT

— Utility companies can trim or cut down trees that pose a risk to services, but what many homeowners don't understand is how Duke Energy decides which trees to cut, how to cut them and how to properly clean them up.

Shelley Bohn said she is upset that Duke Energy took down a tree in her yard in April without notice and without properly cleaning up the area. Afterward, the crew told her the tree had a small diseased area.

“With the exceptions of a serious storm, hurricane or tornado,” Bohn said, “there is no reason that this tree could not have stood and thrived for many years to come. On their website, it actually says that they just leave it in manageable pieces and they don't stump. They feel like this is acceptable."

Duke Energy filed a suit against John Kane, of Raleigh, in May, claiming that Kane wouldn’t accede to the company’s demand to remove the tree from his home on Brooks Avenue.

The company said the tree posed a threat to a nearby 115,000-volt transmission line that serves thousands of customers.

Kane won the case and has now started a website to help customers battle Duke Energy efforts to cut additional trees.

A homeowner in Broadway, N.C., sent WRAL News photos of her trees that were trimmed by Duke Energy without notice.

Concerned about the work that was done, she hired three arborists to assess it. Each told her the trimmed trees were unsafe. Duke Energy eventually agreed and chopped them down, leaving a mess in her yard.

Bohn recently reached out to Duke about the pile left in her yard, but she never heard back.

“Our arborist indicated there was rot in the base of the tree,” spokesman Jeff Brooks said in a statement. “I think we could have done a better job of making the pieces smaller.”

Brooks added that they are working to resolve the situation and clean up the site.

Bohn said the company contracted by Duke to take her tree down agreed that the tree should not have been removed.

“I think they're abusing their power, and they're bullying people into thinking that they can't do anything about it,” she said.