Support bill to protect vegetation

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To the editor:

As an electric customer, landowner, or local government entity, strengthen your property rights by urging support of Virginia Senate Bill 684, which tightens laws and establishes fines to prevent a utility’s excessive removal of vegetation.

Electric utility lines crossing your property, with or without an easement, entitle you to certain property rights. If your property has been abused through a utility’s excessive removal of plants, bushes and trees, consider the following:

Email newsletter signup

We know vegetation must be controlled for reliable utility service. However, as Virginia laws are written now, the utilities only have guidelines — not laws — established with the State Corporation Commission, with no limits on the amount of trimming or even on tree removal.

Furthermore, the SCC does not enforce the guidelines, even to the point of making the utility go through the minimal effort of notifying the consumer when they will be present on your property.

States like Illinois, Connecticut, and Indiana are examples where specific laws were passed on the presence of the utility and on placing limits on trimming and tree removal to protect the property owner.

Check electric lines around your property and assess potential for ruin by a utility’s clearing that may or may not stay within legal limits of cutting. Consider that no laws, regulations, fines or accountability exist through their regulator, the State Corporation Commission, to help you. Also, you are left with the expense of court action.

Go to the Virginia legislature’s website and find your legislators’ contact information. Or call the main number 804-698-7410, and they will help you find your particular senator or delegate.

Call or email your legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 684 before their short session ends.

Sharon Mills Wozniak