Pepco officials assured the Hyattsville City Council last night that they follow rigorous procedures when trimming or removing trees near utility lines.
Recent utility-related tree trimming in Hyattsville had attracted the attention of residents and elected officials.
Jerry Pasternak, regional vice-president for Pepco, and Jennifer Gillen, in charge of Pepco's local "vegetation management" team, came before the city council last night in part to address concerns raised by residents on Oglethorpe Street and also 31st Avenue. In recent weeks, a number of trees on those streets have been subject to trimming and removal in the vicinity of a set of overhead lines.
Pasternak said that the work was part of a five-year, $250 million plan designed to improve service throughout the region.
In Hyattsville alone, this means more than 130 telephone poles will be maintained or replaced, and 9 transformers and 12 switches installed by the end of this year.
"You will all see improvement in the reliability of our service," Pasternack told the city council. "The most noticeable part of our plan is vegetation management, though, and it's what we get the most feedback on."
Gillen explained that Pepco uses a private contractor called Utilimap to inspect and plan vegetation trimming and removal. When trees are located on private property, the company is supposed to leave a door hanger alerting the owners of the plans and to obtain permission. Once permission is obtained, Gillen said, the actual tree trimming falls to the familiar orange Asplundh company to execute.
When working with trees located on city property or on the public right of way, Pepco seeks the approval of city staff before tree trimming work begins.
"We do value our partnership with the city and we want to strengthen that," said Gillen. "Our goal is to not remove trees unless it's absolutely necessary…we are more than willing to listen and take a second look when it is appropriate."