LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A fight with the utility company could happen to anybody. Often that is losing battle. So when one viewer said a contractor hired by LG&E damaged his fence he called the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department. And we got results.
When the power company decided to cut down some green in this Middletown neighborhood it left John Lettieri seeing red.
"I was shocked," Lettieri said. "I assumed it would be just like a car accident."
But more than three months after an LG&E contractor dented a panel of his fence he's still all bent out of shape.
"It's just mind boggling to me," Lettieri said.
In the fall Lettieri signed off on the free removal of three trees in his back yard. LG&E thought the trees were in danger of falling on power lines. But the contractor they sent out left behind more than a bunch of wood.
"I have no idea how it happened," Lettieri said. "All I know is when I left for work it was in tact and when I came home it was damaged."
$500 dollars worth of damage according to Lettieri. Since it was a nice fence, he wanted a fence company to fix it. But LG&E refused and said the tree service would have to do it. Lettieri reluctantly agreed to let the tree service do the repair as long as LG&E pledged, in writing, to pay for a fence company to re-do the work if he wasn't satisfied. He said LG&E wouldn't sign off on that either.
"She said we will not put that in writing and (the fence company) will fix that or we will deny your claim," Lettieri said the LG&E rep told him. "I'm flabbergasted!"
So he called the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter department.
LG&E spokesperson Chris Whelan said their policy is to let homeowners choose the repair company when LG&E crews do the damage. But when contractors break something, LG&E lets the contractor decide how to fix it.
In his case, Lettieri said the tree service only wanted to replace individual poles, rather than swapping out the entire panel. But after we went to LG&E they agreed that wasn't good enough, and forced the tree service to replace the whole panel. Whalen also promised us they would send in a fence company if things didn't look right.
"We apologized," Whelan said. "We even sent him a note and said we're backing this up if you don't like what you see, let us know."
In early January, LG&E made good on its pledge. Finally, mending fences.
"It looks exactly like it did before this ever happened," Lettieri said. "And that's all I ever asked."
Lettieri said part of his problem was that he didn't know what his rights were, so we did some digging.
Andrew Melnykovych, director of communications with the Kentucky Public Service Commission told me utility companies have the right to cut down trees on private property as long as they are on the utility pole easement. That information is on file with your property records.
If you have a complaint about tree trimming that you can't get resolved with your utility, call the PSC at 1-800-772-4636 or log on to their website at psc.ky.gov.
But even if you complain to the PSC there's no laws about this sort of stuff, so they have to try and negotiate with the utility company to try and reach a resolution.
"We try to resolve those informally but if we cannot resolve those informally it becomes a matter for the legal system," Melnykovych said.
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