OG&E, Homeowners Disagree About Downed Trees
OG&E’s latest effort to upgrade a power line in Fort Smith has been met with some resistance.
Neighbors along Free Ferry are upset after dozens of trees have been cut back and removed.
In order to upgrade the power line and meet the increasing demand in the area, more trees had to be removed this time around, said Rob Ratley with OG&E.
“This line needs to be upgraded in order to carry more load,” said Ratley. “In doing so, we’ve had to acquire additional easement and also reach out to the area property owners in order to buy that easement, as well as compensate them for the vegetation we have to take out.”
But OG&E is being much more aggressive than they have been in the past, according to Dr. David Harper, who lives and works on Free Ferry.
“It’s shocking to me,” said Dr. Harper. “Once again, it’s 70 feet wide. A swath of destruction of 70 feet wide right through the city. And this is not on the perimeter of the city or in a rural area. This is right through the heart of Fort Smith, Arkansas.”
The electric company is going too far, Dr. Harper said. He believes the company is removing decades-old trees that wouldn’t interfere with the upgraded power line.
“It’s just absolutely been cleared,” said Dr. Harper. “It’s taken generations for the tree line to build up and now it’s just been obliterated.”
“When it comes to power lines and utility pools, it’s always a delicate balance,” said Ratley in response to the neighbors concerns. “But it’s one we try to weigh evenly. People are sensitive about their trees. But they also want reliable power. It’s necessary for us to trim a certain margin in order to ensure that power is applied consistently.”
OG&E expects to have the upgraded power line along Free Ferry complete by the end of the year.
If you’re thinking about planting new trees, your best bet is to plant them several feet away from any overhead power lines. For specific recommendations on where it’s safe to plant, click HERE.