Steve Craven's patience with Westar Energy about the persistent power outages in his neighborhood is gone.
Since Craven moved into the 3400 block of Richard Court a year ago, he has lost track of the number of outages he has experienced.
"Every time I call them, they say, 'OK, we'll make a note of it,'" Craven said. "They come in and immediately fix it, but they aren't fixing the root of the problem and I don't understand it."
During the past 12 months there have been nine outages in his area, Westar confirmed.
"His neighborhood has experienced a higher-than-usual number of extended outages," Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said.
Of those outages two were caused by tree branches on the lines, five were because of animals such as squirrels, two were equipment problems and one was because of the March 12 microburst storm, Penzig said. The outages have ranged from 40 minutes to four hours, she said.
The tree and squirrel problems come as no surprise to Craven. Though squirrel guards have been placed on transformers, Craven said he has been told more than once by Westar crews that they were behind on tree trimming around power lines.
"Every time I've spoken with any of the ground guys, they just roll their eyes and shake their heads and say, 'Man, we know. We're just so far behind.'"
But Westar spokeswoman Karla Olsen said the utility was not behind on its tree trimming in Lawrence or anywhere else. Some trees grow faster than others and Westar crewmen get to them as fast as they can, she said.
"Tree trimming is an expensive thing and we increase our budget for that every year so we can try to catch it faster and faster," Olsen said. "Because a particular area may have been down a couple of circuits on our list doesn't mean we're behind."
Craven's neighborhood is now on a priority list and someone will be checking it for tree-trimming needs in the next day or two, Olsen and Penzig said.
"It was already on our radar and in cases like this we'll move it up on our priority list," Olsen said.
It's about time, Craven said.
"If they are going to address it, that's cool," he said.