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Discussion About Charging Customers Who Refuse To Allow Tree Trimming If Outages Result

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(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) _ A Connecticut Light & Power spokesman downplayed an executive’s comment that the utility was considering charging property owners when outages are caused by limbs falling from trees they refused to have trimmed.

Kenneth Bowes, vice president for energy delivery service, told the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Tuesday that the utility plans to hold customers responsible for what he called “tree-trimming refusals,” The New Haven Register reported (http://bit.ly/1duHCHj ).

Spokesman Mitch Gross tried to minimize Bowes’ comment.

“This is something that has been discussed internally, nothing more,” he said.

At a public hearing that evening, the subsidiary of Northeast Utilities came in for more criticism.

Shirley McCarthy, chairwoman of Branford’s Tree Commission, called the company’s tree-trimming practices barbaric.

Susan Bradford, a resident of Bethany, said that after many years of working well with CL&P to keep her trees pruned, the utility’s trimming crews “mutilated” 13 spruce trees on her property in June.

“You had overzealous crews working without proper supervision,” she said.

CL&P has been trimming trees since the freak October 2011 snowstorm broke branches that had yet to shed their leaves. In some areas in Connecticut, power was not restored for 11 days.

Since December, Bowes said 24,750 CL&P customers have been notified of scheduled tree-trimming maintenance work. Of that, only 178 objections over tree trimming have been raised by property owners. Throughout 2013, CL&P received more than 10,000 requests for additional tree trimming from customers, he said.

Regulators are conducting the hearings after state officials called for updated tree-trimming plans following the outages. A draft decision by regulators about its review of tree-trimming will likely be released in April.
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Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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