Greensboro Takes On Duke Energy Over Trees

6:58 PM, Oct 31, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Even with the new ordinance, there are still unresolved issues between the city of Greensboro and Duke Energy.

It's been almost a year since Duke Energy started tearing down trees in the Westerwood community. It prompted Greensboro City Council to pass a new tree ordinance. The new rules gave people more rights, but the left a few issues unresolved.

Now, Duke Energy will take on the city of Greensboro in a public hearing.

Westerwood community neighbors are trying to protect their trees yet again. They recently got a notice that Duke Energy would resume the tree cutting job in their neighborhood that Duke had to stop last year. But the neighbors are saying "not so fast."

"We want to have the ordinance be as good and as strong as we can have it before they start cutting again," said Gail Barger, a Westerwood neighbor.

Before the city passed their revised ordinance, Duke Energy could cut down trees whenever and wherever even on your property if it interfered with power lines. Now, Duke Energy has to give notice to the neighborhood and the city when they're going to cut down trees so no longer are people surprised by the crew in their backyard.

But, there are still four areas the city and duke energy disagree:

- Trimming Cycle: the city wants Duke to trim trees every five years. Duke doesn't want to be regulated.
- Trimming Standards: city wants to designate how much of the tree can be trimmed.
- Large Debris Removal: the city wants Duke to clean-up after trimming that leaves debris on personal property.
- Local Appeals Process: the city wants citizens to have local avenues to appeal trimming. Duke wants citizens to appeal to the state utilities commission.

"These are things that matter to our citizens and we think should matter to the utilities commission but Duke disagrees and that's why we've both agreed that we'll take this to the utilities commission," said Mujeeb Shah-Khan, the city attorney for Greensboro.

Duke Energy sent News 2 this statement:

Duke Energy, along with the City of Greensboro spent a number of months developing a utility vegetation management ordinance that balances both our obligation to provide safe, reliable power to the citizens of Greensboro and the community's tree canopy. We continue to disagree on several items, including an appeals process and the trimming standards and cycles. Because these outstanding items have the potential of increasing costs for all North Carolina customers without improving reliability, we believe it is appropriate for the utilities commission to ultimately determine the most effective resolution.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will make a decision on the four unresolved issues after hearing from both sides on Dec. 11, in Raleigh.

WFMY News 2

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