BWL Will Trim and Remove Trees in Chesterfield Hills and Bailey, Install Higher Voltage System

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Thursday, October 13, 2016, 9:28 am
Alice Dreger

BWL-affiliated tree trimming and tree removal crews are expected be heading into the Chesterfield Hills and Bailey neighborhoods starting on November 1. BWL will be holding a walk-in open house at the Hannah Community Center this coming Monday, October 17, from 4 to 8 p.m. in an effort to answer residents’ questions and concerns about the electric utility’s vegetation management strategy.

Steve Serkaian, BWL’s Executive Director of Public Affairs, tells ELi that residents of Chesterfield Hills have already received a letter advising them of how the cutting will work. The letter says the crews “will do their best to perform their work with respect to you and your property” and asks residents to “Please treat them with respect in return.” This appears to be a nod to the tensions that have existed between some East Lansing homeowners and BWL with regard to tree trimming and removal.

Homeowners whose trees BWL determines must be cut will find a card hung on their front door. If a homeowner has a concern, she or he will have to contact BWL. Trees will be marked with one blue dot if the trees are to be trimmed and with two blue dots if BWL plans to remove them.

According to the letter from BWL, “Once the customer acknowledges the removal, the tree will be painted with a blue ‘X.’ Removals may be required under certain circumstances including when a tree is too close to a power line, dead or diseased.” BWL may also remove small trees, bushes, and shrubs around poles and below lines.

BWL has previously indicated that the company believes it must cut “ground to sky” six feet around wires (three feet to either side) for relatively low-voltage wires. Higher voltage wires are treated with a wider cut-area. According to BWL, installation of higher voltage lines is a major part of the plan for East Lansing.

BWL has determined that the current electrical system used in sections of East Lansing “has become obsolete and [it] is difficult to acquire replacement parts.” Additionally, the existing lower-voltage system “significantly reduces the ability to move customers during outages onto alternate higher-voltage circuits, which provide power to most BWL customers. Lower-voltage customers experience longer outages.”

The company has indicated that if East Lansing residents want reliable power, with fewer and shorter electrical outages, many trees will need to be cut down, particularly in old-growth neighborhoods where, because BWL did not cut for decades, many trees have grown tall around the power lines.

Serkaian tells ELi the information about Monday’s open house at Hannah Community Center has been pushed out via Facebook and neighborhood associations. For more information about Monday’s open house, click here.


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