KINGSPORT — American Electric Power kicked off a new program in Kingsport earlier this year whereby trees, limbs and brush near and under power lines would be trimmed every four years.
The idea is this type of routine maintenance would increase AEP’s reliability and decrease the number of outages due to high winds and storms.
But for one Bloomingdale couple, the tree trimming work that recently took place on their property has not been the most pleasant of experiences.
Jerry and Vickie Foulk live on Bancroft Chapel Road. In early June, a private company — hired by AEP — came to their home to trim the trees away from the power line that ran across their backyard.
The Foulks’ home sits on about six acres. The backyard slopes down an embankment and is mostly wooded and undeveloped.
When the trimming was done, the company left all the cut limbs and logs lying in the backyard.
“They didn’t clean up one sprig,” Vickie said. “You can’t walk through it and they left it laying just like they cut it. I’ve called them, they came back up here and said unless AEP required it, they can’t do anything about it. It’s not in their policy.”
“Ain’t it a mess? And it’s going to be worse when it grows up,” Jerry added.
In the weeks following the work, officials with the tree trimming company and AEP went out to the Foulks’ property. The Foulks said the company did clean up one of their neighbor’s debris, but only sat outside their home for hours not doing any work.
Vickie said her husband spoke with someone at AEP who said the company would cut up the larger pieces of wood and stack them up for their use. That never happened.
The Foulks understand that AEP has the right to trim and remove trees near its power lines.
“What right do I have to get this cleaned up?” Vickie said. “I have a 5-year-old grandson that lives with me and we already have snake problems. Now its going to be worse and it’ll be a fire hazard.”
The Times News reached out to AEP about the situation and for further information about its policy regarding tree trimming and debris removal.
“Generally speaking, branches and limbs generated on a daily basis by our contract tree crews are disposed of in the most economic and practical manner possible,” said John Shepelwich, spokesperson for AEP Appalachian Power. “Within maintained or landscaped areas, branches and limbs are removed, while the wood (large branches and trunks) is to remain on the property for the resident’s use.”
However, in non-maintained or undeveloped areas, the wood, branches and limbs are left on the property, Shepelwich said.
“Based on the description ... and that it looks like (the Foulks’ property) falls within our specifications, we do not have any plans to remove the debris from that location,” Shepelwich said.