BRISTOL, Tenn. - Bristol Tennessee Essential Services spends $1 million every year trimming trees to prevent power outages.
And while the company asks people to plant trees away from power lines, crews still cycle neighborhoods every five years, trimming trees away.
But one woman says the job BTES did on her trees is deplorable -- that the company hacked her trees rather than trimming them, and now she has to pay an estimated $300 to fix them.
Yates lives on Merriewood Drive, where trees are in full bloom -- until you get to her house. "Deplorable. There's no other word for it," she says.
Three weeks ago, BTES came by and "asked if they could trim, and I said yes because I understand, you know, about the power lines," Yates says.
But what happened afterward has her very disappointed. "Everything is just so, so hacked," she says, as the trees in her front yard are now shaped like an "L." She also finds dead limbs and branches falling to the ground that she's worried could injure someone.
News 5 asked Greg Jones from Tri-Cities Tree Company if the trees are dead. "They did not kill the trees," Jones says.
But when we showed him the pictures, he said, "It's definitely not professional. But it can be fixed."
Leslie Blevins, customer relations at BTES, says trims like the one at Yates's house are standard. We asked if the trees look goofy, to which she replied, "Yes." We then asked if the trees would look the same for anyone else in a similar situation, to which she responded, "Yes."
The company's methods stem from National Arbor Day Foundation guidelines. BTES trims laterally, cutting branches so limbs will re-grow away from power lines. According to a pamphlet, lateral trimming is "derived from the method of cutting branches back to natural strong points on the tree, such as the juncture of the trunk and major limbs."
It results in some funky-looking shaped trees, including "V" and "Y" shapes, but Blevins says it's healthier than rounding them off, which results in decay, disease, insects, fungi and may threaten the life of the tree. "We really like trees. But trees and reliable power lines just do not mix. So we have to do what's best for our customers and to avoid power outages," she says.
But as Yates looks, and laughs, at the state of her trees, she says, "When you look at it at this angle it's just horrible."
And she can't believe she'll have to pay out of pocket to fix what she calls an eyesore. We asked her if she thinks the company should pay to fix the trees, and she said, "Yes. I think so. I mean I'm sure an employee of BTES would not allow this in their yard," she says.
Blevins outlined options for customers when it comes to trimming trees. She says you can use the company's Trade a Tree program. Free of charge, BTES will remove a tree and replace it with a tree more suited for the area, like a Dogwood, that would only grow about 20 feet high.
The other option is to elect to arrange for a professional independent contractor at your own expense to trim or remove trees on the property, in lieu of BTES or its contractors performing the same services where said trees will pose a threat to BTES overhead power lines if neither trimmed nor removed.
BTES reminds customers that they need to take power lines into consideration when planting a tree. Future size of the tree is very important, according to a pamphlet, and "trees can retain their natural beauty if they don't have to be trimmed to protect the safety and reliability of the power lines."
Blevins says the trees in this situation should have been planted at least 50 feet away from the power lines. The tall trees to avoid are Maple, Spruce, Oak and Pine because of their height, while small trees like Star magnolia and Crabapple are considered appropriate.
Blevins also noted that the Arbor Day Foundation has named BTES a 2014 Tree Line USA recipient in honor of its commitment to proper tree pruning, planting and care in the BTES service area, earning that award for the 14th year in a row.
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