Entergy is in the process of trimming trees as part of their effort to enhance electrical service reliability, and some Indianola residents are not happy about the manner in which it’s being done.
Some say they want the electrical service provider to leave their trees alone.
Homeowners in the East Baker Street area have voiced their concern that the contractors hired by Entergy are “ruining the look of the town.”
Their complaints range from what they call inexperienced workers to the metal outriggers used to stabilize the trucks are tearing up the streets.
“They are destroying these trees, what they’re doing is really uncalled for,” said homeowner Rick Little, who also owns and operates a tree cutting business. “A lot of these 100 year-old live oak trees, they’re just scooping the whole center out of them and they are just destroying them, they won’t ever look right again.”
Little, who said he’s noticed similar work throughout the city, also said the workers are making the trees dangerous because in some cases they are removing all of the limbs from one side and he maintains that the company doesn’t have to strip the trees. Pointing at one tree, Little said if a good storm comes through, something bad could happen.
“It’s coming down,” he said.
However Ben Burge, Entergy’s vegetation supervisor for this area said in a phone interview with The E-T that the trees are being cut arborculturally correct based on the standards.
Burge maintains that the trees are being properly pruned and cut back and added that their process is designed to make sure no diseased trees are left near the power lines. As to the claim that the workers are unskilled, Burge asserted that no worker is just put up near a power line without having first been properly trained.
He said the workers begin as ground men and have to graduate certain skill levels before they are allowed to trim trees.
“There’s a checklist,” he said.
Lenora Griffin is another resident who is unhappy about the way the trees are being pruned.
“These trees have been here 50 years every since 1967,” she said.
Griffin said she moved into her house on July 14, 1967 and her trees were planted then.
“If they are going to do a job, do it right, because this is not right,” Griffin said. She pointed out that her tree is now shaped like a chair.
Gerald Husband, Entergy Mississippi customer service representative in Greenville, said customers can help keep the lights on long-term by taking care not to plant trees under or near power lines.
“Many trees that we trim are trees that have been planted under power lines,” said Husband.
Griffin is also upset because she said Entergy didn’t notify her before lopping off her limbs.
“They’re just doing what they want to do,” she said. However, Husband said customers were notified.
In a news release from Entergy dated Sept. 17, it states that as part of a $95 million investment in 2017 to strengthen and modernize the energy grid, Entergy will be trimming trees south of US 82 and over to MS 49 in Indianola until early December.
In the release Husband said, “The biggest threat to the electric grid during storms are trees and branches, so trimming them back on a regular basis is key to maintaining the integrity of the system.” Husband said the 20 line-mile area they’re working on provides service to 7,500 customers.
Entergy insists that their trimming process is “designed to enhance reliability.”
The release denotes Entergy as a Tree Line USA utility, which is a program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters that recognizes utilities that meet certain requirements among which are, a program of quality tree care, annual worker training in quality tree care practices, and a tree planting and public education program.
On Wednesday, some residents began receiving robocalls from Entergy announcing future tree trimming work in the area.