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Kentucky Utilities officials appear before Lexington council again regarding tree removals

Lexington government-screenshot
Kentucky Utilities David Friebert

Representatives of Kentucky Utilities explained to city council members Thursday modifications in citizen notification for clear cutting trees under transmission lines. Tree removals are still planned in areas around Landsdowne Drive and Fairway Drive.

KU Transmission Engineering and Construction Director Kyle Burns said some discretion has been used, but only about 5% of trees will be spared in that area. Burns said there are service reliability issues as well as cost savings to consider. “We didn’t come today with photos that show areas where trees have grown into transmission lines, but we have those examples across the system and so, one of the concerns that we have is what’s the impact of that on the reliability of the system,” explained Burns.

More than one council member along with a community representative asked of cases where trees in Lexington have interrupted transmission line service. KU officials responded they did not have that number. Vice Mayor Steve Kay suggested tree heights could vary depending on where they are positioned between transmission poles.

Council Member David Kloiber said the utility’s projected long-term cost savings in tree removal could be offset by legal action. “While I’m sure whatever decisions, be they economic or otherwise, got you to that decision, it’s not going to make the most economic sense in the long run, if this gets caught up in a lot of lawsuits and embroiled in a lot more community dissatisfaction,”

Burns told Council a 30-day moratorium on tree removal is not necessary. He said the utility would not be making any decision related to the Lake Edge area until an environmental assessment is completed. Where trees are scheduled to be removed, Burns said the aim is to see tree re-plantings with little lag time.

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