A neighborhood is up in arms after, without notice, the utility trimmed several old-growth shade trees to make way for new power lines. They even took one down to the stump. PSE&G says emergency measures had to be taken to address resident complaints about outages. The Montclair homeowners say their street and property values have been damaged to provide power to a tony neighborhood and country club the next town over.
In a statement, Everton Scott, PSE&G’s Regional Public Affairs Manager, admitted that they “might have communicated better” with the residents about the changes, but asserted the utility was on solid legal ground. “Hindsight is 20/20. We should have reached out better, but we have the legal authority to erect, operate and maintain poles in the public right of way,” Scott said. “As a franchise utility, we don’t normally notify the public.”
The neighborhood has been collecting signatures and filing petitions to try to delay the project and get more answers. Part of what really rankles them is that they feel their street is getting mangled in order to provide more reliable electricity to the Glen Ridge Country Club and 44 other homes in that town, while only 14 in Montclair will benefit.
However, it appears that their protests will fall on deaf ears. During a town meeting with impassioned town citizens, Scott said that only a consensus among PSE&G engineers would alter the project at this point.
Grappling with utilities can be difficult. When doing so, it’s a good idea to engage with your local Public Utilities Commission, which has oversight over the local utilities.
Montclair residents call for halt to PSE&G power line project [NorthJersey]
PSE&G Offers Ultimatum to Residents: Trees or Power [Baristanet]
PSE&G ‘Emergency’ Tree Trimming Angers Residents In Montclair, N.J. [CBS New York]