By Mary O’KEEFE
Local residents are once again seeing Southern California Edison’s contracted tree service companies throughout the area trimming and, in some cases, completely taking down trees.
“SCE conducts annual inspections of trees and vegetation near [power] lines,” explained Reggie Kumar, SCE spokesman.
Since wildfires are a growing threat throughout California, abatement and clearing property of debris are uppermost in the thoughts of many local residents. In addition, power companies throughout the state have faced questions and legal charges for their part in contributing to devastating wildfires.
In 2019, the state increased the trimming clearance requirements from six feet to 12 feet in high-risk fire areas. State regulations require utilities to trim trees or vegetation that could cause a power outage and/or spark a fire or be a danger to the public. Enhanced tree trimming is part of the SCE Wildfire Mitigation Plan.
SCE has been in the area in the past, first by getting aerial views of the area and then on the ground, trimming.
“If a tree is identified for ‘light pruning’ the customer will be notified via door hanger 30 to 45 days before the maintenance. A second door hanger is provided within 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled maintenance,” Kumar said.
There is a phone number on the door hanger that residents can call if they have an issue with the planned pruning or want more information.
“Customers with trees that require ‘heavy pruning’ will be contacted in person by SCE to discuss the pruning plan,” he added.
The issues residents have had in the past are not that trees need to be trimmed but how they were being trimmed and why certain trees were determined to be removed while others were not.
A reader contacted CVW, concerned that two trees were being taken down in the Briggs Terrace area. To state residents in the area are protective of their trees would be an understatement. Seeing these trees that appeared to be healthy cut down was upsetting.
Kumar said these tree removals were part of the vegetation management that is required of SCE.
“At Southern California Edison, the safety of our customers, employees and communities is our number one priority, and managing vegetation around our equipment is one of the ways we help mitigate the potential risk of a catastrophic wildfire. We take the health and well-being of each tree seriously when considering the best way to keep them a safe distance from high voltage power lines and other electrical equipment,” Kumar said. “Recently, SCE contractors in the La Crescenta area were performing tree maintenance, which included the removal of at least two trees with overhanging branches that posed a significant risk to power lines. We notified the property owners about this work in advance; they provided permission and we obtained a permit from LA County. While we understand some community members may have concerns about trimming vegetation, we must do it to keep our systems safe and reliable.”
CVW will continue to follow the tree management program.