Southern Indiana homeowner set to lose entire backyard of trees due to power lines

Homeowner to lose backyard of trees because of power lines

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - LG&E is chopping down hundreds of trees across Indiana and Kentucky to protect the power grid, but some homeowners are fighting back.

Debra Reynolds is about to lose 15 trees in her New Albany backyard because they are over 10 feet tall and in the right of way of a transmission line.

Her friends call her backyard ‘Shangri-La’.

“Nothing will replace what I’ve developed and cultivated over the years,” Reynolds said. Reynolds has been working on creating a paradise in her yard for 21 years.

She has a story for every tree, but their days are numbered.

“I’m just really sad and I’m helpless,” Reynolds said. “I feel really powerless, it just makes me sad.”

The trees’ fate marked with a pink ribbon.

“I’m concerned about the after effects what it’s going to do to my property value, my heating and cooling bills, my utility bills, I’m going to lose all my buffer to the sound and light pollution of Charlestown Road,” Reynolds said.

LG&E sent Reynolds a letter in July that any tree over 10 feet will have to be cut down. The electric company says it’s part of an enhanced federal requirement to maintain the vegetation around transmission lines.

The right of way runs right up to Reynolds back porch.

It’s an easement for the LG&E transmission line as well as a Duke Energy Distribution line.

The trees, she says, have never been an issue.

“Over the years, it’s always been Duke that’s come in and trimmed the trees,” Reynolds said. “Never has a tree in my yard caused an outage, ever.”In the EPA Act of 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the vegetation has to be managed around transmission lines, but leaves the method up to the company.

If trees cause outages, the power companies are heavily fined.

Reynolds is confused why they would choose to chop down her trees now, after 21 year of cultivating her backyard oasis. She says coming in after she’s done all this work will destroy all of the intricate landscaping she’s done.

“The vegetation around the trees will be destroyed because of the heavy equipment that will be coming into the yard,” Reynolds said. “I’m at a loss.”

Reynolds says she’s done exhaustive research and gone to the city for help to no avail. Now, she just wants to warn others.

“The scope of this project is huge,” Reynolds said. “It’s all the way up into the Knobs and will cross the river, eastward, into the neighborhoods like Douglas Hills, Prospect, and on.”

LG&E says they are offering replacement trees to be planted out of the right of way for affected homeowners. Reynolds could get up to six, but she says it wouldn’t be the same.

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