Tree Trimming and Power Outages
I'm experiencing a bit of schadenfreude as the folks pushing hardest for restrictions on Austin Energy (AE)'s trimming plans in the neighborhoods with the most power outages due to tree limbs (and entire trees) falling down are forced to defend themselves against the quite accurate charges that a more vigorous pruning regime would have resulted in less problems overall. One example:
Last week's storms and some gratuitous vilification of those of us trying to preserve as much of our shade canopy as possible present something of a difficult environment for saving the trees in our alleys and especially along our numbered strees where lines cross, so if you want to support our work, I hope you wll attend.
It doesn't help that these same people form much of the nucleus of the abominable "let's further restrict residential development in the Center City while claiming to be against suburban sprawl" contingent.
However, I also don't want to see beautiful trees hacked to pieces, and, frankly, AE will do it if they're not reined in.
So, here's my proposal:
Each AE customer gets to choose between the following:
1. AE gets to do whatever they want.
2. AE can't trim anything, but residents at this address will be assessed a (fairly large) monthly charge designed to build up funds for putting electric lines underground (where, in more civilized parts of the country, they generally would be). This doesn't include wires from the street to your house; just the wires along the street. AE pays 50% of the cost of any such projects; the remaining 50% comes from the local residents' contributions and must be spent within the local neighborhood planning district (i.e. maybe not on your individual street but not too far from it).
Problem solved. Those who want to preserve their trees at the possible risk of cutting off their neighbors' electricity must pay for the privilege, and the money must go into a much better long-term solution than trimming.
(I'd choose #2 myself, by the way, depending on the charge. I don't want my trees hacked up either; but I don't assert the right to cut off power to my entire neighborhood).
Next up: M1EK solves the "Drainage Emergency".