Let them have chainsaws.
Legislation recently passed overwhelmingly by lawmakers would give utility companies the ability to clear vegetation around power lines without the need for state and local approval. The bill sponsors’ objective is cut down on winter power outages caused by fallen trees or branches.
It’s now up to Gov. Phil Murphy to decide whether the measure will become law.
“Having consistent, dependable power is paramount to New Jersey families, particularly during nasty weather conditions,” state Sen. Steve Oroho, a main sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
“Overgrown trees and shrubs often tend to be the culprits when your power goes out during a storm,” Oroho, R-Sussex, said. “Removing some of the bureaucracy will help utility companies to engage in the preventative maintenance that’s needed to guarantee access to lifesaving utilities regardless of the elements.”
The legislation (S2505) would let utilities bypass the Department of Environmental Protection’s Community Forest Council, as well as any county or municipal tree commissions, that would interfere with their ability to clear vegetation around utility poles.
The first snowstorm of this season knocked out power to about 37,000 New Jerseyans, Oroho said. Much of that could have been prevented if utilities didn’t have to “go through a bureaucratic morass” of approval needed to clear vegetation, he said.
The bill, dubbed the Vegetation Management Response Act, passed the Assembly by a 70-1 vote and the state Senate by 38-0.
Matt Arco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.
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