“The plans proposed would lead to the removal of far too many healthy trees—trees that shade our sidewalks, clean the air, reduce erosion and stormwater runoff, and raise property values. No one wants to live in a clear-cut neighborhood.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Contact: Laura McMillan
203-787-0646 ext. 137
NEW HAVEN, CT—Connecticut Fund for the Environment spoke Wednesday afternoon at a technical meeting regarding Connecticut Light & Power’s (CL&P) tree-trimming plan, hosted by the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA). The meeting, as well as a public information session this evening and a similar event tomorrow in United Illuminating’s (UI) service territory, are part of an effort by PURA to gather public input and expert advice on the electrical utilities’ controversial proposals. The plans call for rigid line clearance standards known as “Enhanced Tree-Trimming,” which involves cutting all trees and limbs within eight feet of utility lines. A pilot of the plan in Hamden has already met with fierce public opposition.
“We’re pleased that PURA and the utilities have an opportunity to hear from the public they serve why these aggressive tree-trimming plans are bad for Connecticut’s neighborhoods,” said Zachary Bestor, legal fellow at CFE. “The plans proposed by UI and CL&P would lead to the removal of far too many healthy trees—trees that shade our sidewalks, clean the air, reduce erosion and stormwater runoff, and raise property values. No one wants to live in a clear-cut neighborhood.”
“But not only are the plans bad for aesthetic and environmental reasons, they’re actually inconsistent with state law,” continued Bestor.
A bill passed last year, Public Act 13-298, declares that until the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issues standards to identify trees and shrubs compatible with utility infrastructure, the final report of the State Vegetation Management Task Force dictates what trees are “compatible.” The task force recommends, among other things, that trees may only be slated for removal based on the risk that they pose, as determined by science-based professional training and risk assessment. In contrast, the utilities’ proposal would cut down trees based only upon their distance from power lines, and does not promise replacement with other vegetation or even removal of tree stumps.
“We believe it is possible to reduce risk to electrical infrastructure while retaining the street trees that make our neighborhoods enjoyable and unique. We hope that these forums will provide UI, CL&P, and PURA with the information they need to craft a balanced approach that uses the vegetation task force’s recommendations to selectively remove trees that genuinely threaten power lines while retaining the character of our cities and towns,” Bestor said.
To provide input on UI’s plan, the public may attend a combined technical meeting and public information session scheduled for 6:30 pm at Hamden Middle School on Thursday, March 6.