Pepco Tree Cutting Brings Chevy Chase Woman to Tears

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pepco has taken a lot of heat for outages since last summer. But now its efforts to improve service reliability are also making some neighbors mad. (Published Thursday, Apr 28, 2011)

    May Kesler awoke to the sound of a loud chainsaw and discovered that two large, 60-year-old maple trees beside her Chevy Chase, Md., house had been cut down by Pepco. It brought tears to her eyes.

    “We had no knowledge and absolutely did not give any approval,” Kesler said. “Pepco said I couldn’t do anything about it because it’s in their right of way.”

    Pepco has been cutting down trees along Brierly Road in Chevy Chase on the property of the Audubon Naturalist Society. 

    “Pepco communicated with our staff about what they intended to do, which was to cut back the dead trees and branches to make future storms have less impact on the power lines,” Audubon Executive Director Neal Fitzpatrick said. “We thought that was a good idea and we said fine.”

    “Every tree is precious,” Kesler said. “Every tree is alive, and I did burst into tears.”

    “We understand in this area a lot of residents and customers love the trees,” Pepco said in a statement. “We will only trim those trees that pose a potential issue to reliability of service to those customers. Our No. 1 priority is reliability.”

    Raj Sakaria, the property manager for the Audubon Naturalist Society, agreed that it was necessary to cut the trees down. Some were being eaten by ants and dry rot, he said, and they were leaning over power lines.

    The Audubon Naturalist Society said that its mission is to connect Washington to nature and that it normally objects to cutting down trees, but in this case it was necessary.

    “It’s a safety issue,” Sakaria said.