LELAND, NC (WECT) - WECT is digging to the root of the problem to find out what your rights are when it comes to trees and power companies.
Willis Cook says he is upset over the potential loss of a Sycamore tree in his yard in Leland. Duke Energy told Cook last week that they would have to cut the tree down because it was in the "right of way" of transmission lines running behind his property.
The Sycamore tree was planted by Cook's wife 30 years ago when they first moved into their home in 1983. Cook says it's not only a tree, but it has a sentimental value because his wife passed away just last year.
However, Duke Energy says they really have no choice but to cut it down because it lies within 50 feet of those transmission lines. That type of line connects the entire region, and if a tree fell into it, power would be knocked out to millions of customers.
It would be a similar situation to the historic Northeast blackout of 2003. Critical businesses like hospitals and airports would lose power, and Duke Energy would also be liable. Transmission lines are under federal jurisdiction, and Duke could be fined up to a $1 million per day.
However, simple distribution lines allow Duke Energy to be more flexible with their decisions to cut down or just trim trees. To avoid the problem all together, they say you should make sure the location is out of the way of overhead and underground power lines by checking with your utility company.
They also have suggestions for which types of trees, shrubs, and other plants are best for areas near power lines.
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