Tree Trimming Angers Midland Neighbors

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - You don't run across too many tall trees here in West Texas, but a few big ones are causing quite a stir in Midland neighborhoods. The power company wants to trim the limbs away from their lines but neighbors are crying foul.

"It's an anger issue going around with people that are on this side that happen to be on this side of the power lines," Morris Kuhrt, a Midland Neighbor said.

Morris lives in a North Midland neighborhood and he says he feels bullied. TXU is sending a trimming service to cut ten feet out from the mainlines and Morris tells NewsWest 9 that would destroy his 20 year old oak trees and drop his property value.

"From the powerline into my yard, ten feet would pretty much be the whole tree," Kuhrt said.

So NewsWest 9 caught up with our local TXU representative to find out what this all means. And they say trees are the top culprits of outages.

"If the trees are growing into the power lines, it can cause a fire," Sue Mercer with TXU Energy, said. "It can cause an outage, it can also cause a short to make the electricity travel to the earth, so safety and reliability are the two main issues."

The power company says if ten feet seems like a lot to take off, blame it on the West Texas winds.

"That's really what causes a lot of the outages when there are high winds, it's the limbs of the tree blowing into the power line," Mercer said.

And when they have a growing number of outage reports in one area they investigate and often that results in extra tree cut-backs.

"This particular case, the entire feeder, or what we call the mainline feeder out to some protective devices is being trimmed," Mercer said.

Morris says one of his biggest complaints is that the contracted trimming company would be allowed to enter his backyard to take down the branches.

"It makes me angry," Kuhrt said. "It's not very much respect for homeowners."

But TXU says it's legal.

"In our tariff, it gives us the right to go into the backyards or side yards or whatever," Mercer said. "We can go to restore power, we can go to upgrade, we can go to keep safe and maintain our liability. We do have the right to be there."