Council hears residents’ concerns and KU explanation about tree cutting plan
Lexington’s mayor and city council are asking Kentucky Utilities to rethink plans to clear cut more trees around electric transmission lines.
Lexington’s mayor and city council are asking Kentucky Utilities to rethink plans to clear cut more trees around electric transmission lines. The two-hour discussion Tuesday included comments from several residents. Diane Atchison said she had driven hours around town, following transmission lines to dead ends, knocked on doors, and met people who feel helpless with no representation against the large utility. “I am not directly impacted by this. I’m not losing anything on my personal property. But this is my city, and I love it. And this is wrong,” said Atchison.
During its presentation, KU representatives talked about a five-year cyclical proactive approach to prevent interruption of service. Transmission Right of Way Coordinator Kevin Montgomery said cutting trees back presents challenges. “So, you have people jumping around from spot to spot throughout the 5400 miles that we maintain, trying to keep trees out of lines,” Montgomery said.
KU representatives talked about tree cutting being a proactive cost saving measure. Council Member David Kloiber said affected homeowners could see water runoff issues and higher air conditioning costs with fewer trees. “All of this seems like rate increases for us when you’re getting a rate savings from a discretionary choice,” commented Kloiber.
Plans call for a stormwater study tied to the removal of trees. KU Vice President David Friebert told Council and attendees the utility firm is willing to meet again with city leaders. “Once we are studying and discussing the results of it, I think that will help us figure out what we need to do differently in this case and in general and, at some point, then I think it would be worth scheduling,” explained Friebert.
Mayor Linda Gorton told Council and those gathered at City Hall she’d asked the utility to consider six requests. Those include a compromise on clear cut measures, more robust re-vegetation, and better notification to residents.