Tree owners liable for trimming costs

Letter of the day

NEIL HOLDOM
Last updated 09:42 26/07/2012
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TARANAKI DAILY NEWS
New Plymouth Electrical contractors at work on the power lines above the trees.

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OPINION: Recent articles in the Taranaki Daily News have highlighted the issue of trees growing into power lines, causing power cuts and safety hazards.

The Electricity Act was amended in 2003 to clarify the responsibilities of network companies and tree owners. The general rule is that network companies cover the cost of the first cut or trim and thereafter the tree owner assumes responsibility for all subsequent work. Responsible land owners often take the opportunity to have offending trees felled straight away to remove the hazard permanently.

Trees continue to be one of the leading causes of avoidable power cuts across Powerco's electricity networks. Landowners continue to plant trees underneath our lines and then expect Powerco to pay the costs to manage a hazard it did not create.

Powerco spends about $5 million each year paying specially trained and equipped arborists to trim trees growing into power lines and we have been doing so for many years. Tree owners are only now coming to terms with the new regulations and at this point in time are only spending a collective $1 million a year managing the hazard they have created.

Only authorised tree trimmers are legally permitted to trim trees growing within four metres of overhead lines so please do not be tempted to undertake the work yourself.

Powerco's message to tree owners is simple. When you allow your trees to grow into the power lines supplying electricity to your community you create a serious hazard, you cause unwanted power cuts impacting on your property and your neighbours and ultimately you will generate an ongoing liability to manage the costs of keeping them trimmed clear of our lines until such time as they are removed.

NEIL HOLDOM

Corporate Affairs Manager, Powerco

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