Despite PURA Request, Utilities Want to Keep Trimming

Mar 17, 2014

A resident holds up a "Trees Please" sign during a public hearing on "enhanced tree-trimming" earlier this month.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Last week, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority called for a "voluntary suspension" of so-called "enhanced tree-trimming" around the state. United Illuminating and CL&P quickly filed formal responses and -- surprise -- they both want to keep trimming.

CL&P said ETT must continue for safety and economic reasons. Writing to the PURA board on March 13, CL&P Vice President Stephen Sullivan said "65 local tree crews comprised of approximately 170 local Connecticut residents, are actively working on CL&P's 2014 ETT program. Suspension of this work ... would affect approximately 60 miles of scheduled work. It should be noted that this work has already been noticed to property owners and permissions have been received from municipal officials." Officials from the utility also argued suspending all ETT work would add significant costs to the utility and cause crews to shift their resources to work in other states. 

PURA responded the following day, saying, in effect, "keep on trimming." Acting Executive Secretary Nicholas Neeley wrote: "PURA hereby directs that CL&P can continue the noticed ETT activities for which customer and municipal consents have been granted. CL&P agrees to suspend any ETT work (including appeals) to which property owners and/or town officials have objections pending a final decision in this docket."

It appears that UI also will keep trimming. Writing in a March 14 letter to the PURA board, UI Vice President Michael Coretto said his utility "does not presently perform vegetation related work ... if the work is not sanctioned by the local tree warden. UI will continue to follow this policy." Coretto said his company will not perform vegetation related work when a private tree owner objects.