NSTAR Says 'No' to Sudbury's $30K Tree Maintenance Fee
Spokesman Mike Durand says the utility company is working with town officials on other solutions.
NSTAR has told the Town of Sudbury it will not pay a $30,000 maintenance fee on new trees that would replace the ones cut down this year, but spokesman Michael Durand said the company is still honoring a commitment it made to the town.
"Wet let (Sudbury) know we are not paying the $30,000 as requested, but we are looking at alternative arraignments moving forward," Durand told Sudbury Patch on Friday. "We are replanting in areas where trees were removed where previously there were screening plantings."
The $30,000 would assist in watering and pruning trees and shrubs it intends to replant in the neighborhoods Pelham Island and Stock Farm roads.
Durand said NSTAR is working with Weston Nurseries to finalize a plan that will including planting trees and other shrubs that are compatible with high voltage transition lines.
"These won't grow as tall as the ones we've removed," he said.
He added the company is working one on one with residents of other towns in replanting where incompatible trees were removed.
Durand said NSTAR is currently working with Sudbury officials to come up with an alternative plan, but had no further details as of Friday.
When asked if putting the wires underground could be an alternative to the tree cutting, Durand said no.
"Putting high voltage wires underground is not workable solution," he said. "No only because of the geography, but also because of the time it would take and the disruption of the land."
Issues with NSTAR have reached other towns as well.
Needham residents are circulating a petition that asks NSTAR to significantly reduce its plan to remove trees and vegetation around transmission lines in town.
The petition, available online at gopetition.com, has been distributed door to door and can also be viewed at Louise Condon Realty or at the Needham Golf Club, according to Elmwood Road resident Bill Fitzgerald.
In early July, representatives from the gas and electric company announced plans to remove "incompatible" vegetation that lies in a 100-foot zone beneath the company’s electrical transmission lines. NSTAR manages about 400 miles of high voltage transmission right-of-way, part of which follows the Commuter Rail tracks through Needham and crosses many private properties and backyards.
NSTAR's original management plan called for removal of any growth with a mature height of more than 3 feet in the “wire zone,” directly around and under the transmission tower, and plants with the potential to grow to more than 15 feet that are located in the “border zone”—an area on either side of the wire zone.
The neighbors' petition, which is addressed to NSTAR President Thomas May, asks the company to "limit the work to reasonable removal of vegetation that currently threatens transmission lines" and to "implement a phased vegetation management approach rather than clear cutting of every tree."
On July 26, town and state officials met with representatives of NSTAR to outline some of their concerns about the management plan, which had already begun in towns such as Wayland, Sudbury, Framingham and Natick.
Sudbury residents have had numerous issues with NSTAR's activities, including one person who had numerous tree removed from her backyard on June 20 without notice, she claimed.
Following that summit, Needham officials submitted a letter that clearly listed the concerns raised at the meeting and requested that NSTAR do more to work with property owners whose yards will be affected by the tree removal.
The neighbors' petition states the following:
To Thomas May, President of NSTAR:
We, the undersigned customers of Northeast Utilities and citizens of the town of Needham, petition Northeast Utilities to cease its planned clear cutting of all trees and work together with its neighbors, town officials and state agencies in order to provide reliable electric service without decimating the environment of the Needham neighborhoods.
We call upon Northeast Utilities to:
Limit the work to reasonable removal of vegetation that currently threatens transmission lines;
Implement a phased vegetation management approach rather than clear cutting of every tree;
Identify and resolve ground level safety, erosion, noise and visual pollution, and water resource issues created by the proposed work;
Communicate with abutters, in writing, defining the scope of planned work;
And present a written plan of mitigation for properties damaged by this work.
Northeast Utilities claim that this project is mandated by new federal mandates is inconsistent with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements that are limited to transmission lines carrying greater voltage than the Needham line.
We demand that the Northeast Utilities behave as a good and reasonable neighbor, a responsible corporate citizen and adhere to its own statement of environmental stewardship:
“The operational activities of our company are conducted with an awareness of the potential environmental impacts created by our infrastructure.”