PSEG Long Island has finished its maligned tree-trimming program in Baldwin, state Assemblyman Brian Curran said. “We were told they are done in Baldwin, with the exception of individual complaints they have to go back and address,” said Curran, who recently met with utility officials.
PSEG LI in recent weeks has trimmed several trees in Baldwin to prevent limbs from falling on power lines and causing outages. Residents and elected officials, though, say the workers have trimmed too much of the trees, not only reducing the aesthetic appeal they once added to the community, but also jeopardizing the trees’ health.
Critics of the program said the trees now look shorter and the branches are bare. “In my eyes, the damage has already been done,” Curran said. “Now we can just hope that the vegetation grows back and looks nicer than how it looks right now.”
County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, also met with PSEG and in a statement on her Facebook page said her office, “had an informative discussion with PSEG about their tree trimming protocols.”
PSEG, according to Mulé, explained that service reliability has increased by 74 percent under the tree-trimming program and dead limbs are often cut off during the process. Curran said he was told the utility has not found any significant increase in the rate of trees dying.
But, he said, the he still thinks the degree to which they’ve been cut is excessive. “I understand the program and the need for it,” he said, “but it just doesn’t seem necessary to do it that much.”
In May, the Arbor Day Foundation named PSEG LI a Tree Line USA Utility for utilizing tree-friendly practices that protect the trees. A statement at the time said that in 2017, the utility removed more than 11,000 trees and large limbs that were growing near power lines.
The way trees located near power lines are trimmed changed when PSEG took over Long Island’s power grid from Long Island Power Authority. Under LIPA, branches were cut six inches in each direction. PSEG LI’s standards call for eight inches of clearance on either side, 12 inches above and 10 inches below a power pole’s primary conductor.
The company also says it sends letters and emails to customers two to three weeks ahead of scheduled tree trimming.
Jeremy Walsh, a spokesman for PSEG LI, said customers can call 1- (800) 490-0025 to discuss any issue from billing to tree trimming. “Excellent customer service is one of PSEG Long Island’s top priorities,” Walsh said. “We worked with this customer to address a concern that was specific to her situation and not commonly encountered.”