"When our customers speak, we listen."
And many of their customers have been very clear: they don't want United Illuminating to go forward with its "Enhanced Tree Trimming" program.
The program involves removing trees that surround utility poles in an effort to lessen outages during storms such as the ones that have hit the area in the last several years.
"Although many customers expressed support for the program’s overall goals, many also raised concerns about its potential impact on roadside trees and the character of neighborhoods," UI said in a release Tuesday.
“Our customers spoke and we listened. We heard what they had to say,” said Joseph D. Thomas, vice president for Electric System Operations at UI. “As a result, we have asked the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to hold a technical meeting so that PURA, UI and other interested parties can discuss the concerns we’ve heard from many of our customers, while also dealing with the initial objective of reducing tree-related outages.”
At that meeting, the discussion will include alternatives to taking down trees within eight feet of electrical lines, Thomas said.
Many Hamden residents voiced strong objections to the plan when it became known in recent weeks, forming the group "Save Hamden Trees." Many of those spoke at a Jan. 15 forum held at Hamden Middle School with UI officials, urging them to reconsider the plans.
On Monday, a Legislative Council committee approved spending up to $25,000 to hire an arborist to work with UI to determine which trees are appropriate for removal. The full council will act on the proposal Monday.
In the release, Thomas said that UI is "sensitive to customers’ and neighbors’ concerns, and will continue to work with local tree wardens, elected officials, community organizations and others to ensure that the program is conducted with transparency, and is appropriate to the neighborhood’s needs."