Hutto residents upset about Oncor’s tree removal

Oncor crews working to cut down trees around power lines. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Oncor crews working to cut down trees around power lines. (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — The big trees behind her backyard is the reason Jolene James moved to the new Carmel Creek Subdivision in Hutto a few months ago.

The two trees behind James’ backyard were there Monday morning and when she came home for her lunch break, they were gone. “It’s extremely frustrating and it sickens me,” said James.

James says Oncor started removing trees last week.The utility company is clearing a path to get all the greenery away from one of their highest-powered transmission lines.

“In order to make sure this line stays safe and the people around it stay safe, is to make sure everything underneath this line which is actually within the Oncor easement, is clear,” said Kris Spears, Oncor spokesman. “We need to make sure that in the event of severe weather, there’s no potential of trees or any type of vegetation interfering with this line.”

However, James says the trees weren’t tall enough to reach the transmission line. “They were nowhere near topping that lower line, they could’ve cut the tree halfway down, they could’ve trimmed it.”

Oncor says leaving any trees underneath the power line still poses a risk. Licensed crews are currently using herbicides in the area to make sure the trees don’t grow back. James says she’s concerned about chemicals being sprayed so close to her property, but Oncor says the herbicides are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The electric company says tree removal along the transmission line is expected to continue over the next few weeks. Oncor says crews will clear the leftover stumps.

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