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A mans fight to save trees Duke Energy plans to cut down

Posted: 8:57 PM, Feb 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-27 20:57:01-05

MOORESVILLE — A metro area utility company is going to cut down dozens of trees in Mooresville as part of an effort to clear trees from power lines and prevent outages. This has one one homeowner frustrated since those trees are around his home.

Duke Energy has plans to hire a contractor to clear every single tree within their easement.

In the front yard of his Mooresville home, Bob Stewart can identify every single tree. That's because he planted them over the last 30 years with his mother.

"Every time my mother came to visit she would bring a different tree," Stewart said. "We've enjoyed that time together, planting them."

But in the next two weeks, each tree within Duke Energy's 50 foot easement, near it's power lines, will be cut down.

"Counting the woods it will be in the 100s, in the front yard there are 20 trees," Stewart said.

It's all part of Duke Energy's vegetation management program to make sure trees aren't falling on power lines, which is the number one reason for outages.

"We have to maintain our right of ways and mitigate the possibility of outages caused by vegetation as much as we can," Lew Middleton, Duke Energy Spokesperson, said. "If we don't do that then we are subject to a fine of $1 million a day for not maintaining are right of way."

Stewart tried to fight back against Duke Energy cutting down his trees, but Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission ruled in Duke's favor. Stating that the company has the legal right to clear their easements to the fullest extent.

"All of the trees in our front yard have been here for 35 years at least and they've never said anything about keeping them trimmed, remove them or anything else," Stewart said.

Now, Stewart is hoping by sharing his story he can help educate other on where they should plant trees, and the rights they have when it comes to utility company's easements.

"There are a lot of people that don't understand where their easement runs," Stewart said. "I do agree some of the trees need trimmed, I don't agree they need to be cut off level to the ground."

Moving forward, Duke Energy wants people to consider where they are planting trees on their property and to make sure to keep large trees like oaks or maples at least 40 feet from power lines. The company does notify homeowners before cutting down trees, and they do take homeowner's concerns into consideration. But, they did say, because of the federal rule and the $1 million fine for tree-related outages, their vegetation program is becoming more strict.

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