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Letters to the Editor

What trees?

June 12, 2012

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To the editor:

As we explore new categories by which we can promote the City of Lawrence as exciting, unique and special to lure new residents, businesses and students to our lovely city, I think it’s time to move away from the “City of Trees” description and pursue a designation as the “City of Utility Poles and Lines.” The tree service hired by Westar Energy will support this effort to the max as it destroys and mutilates our tree-lined and arbored neighborhoods by cutting away at the beautiful and sometimes ancient trees of which we are so fond. These half trees (sometimes two-thirds trees) remain to remind us of our demand for failure-free electricity.

My not-so-humble opinion is that Westar’s “Reliabilitree” program is pure propaganda to convince the accepting public that all this tree-whacking is in our best interests. We all know that calling out repair crews after a storm is expensive, so should we expect our rates to decline after this “proactive vegetation management” program is complete and our trees are sacrificed to the blade? The flier included recently in our Westar bill explains the current rate increase in these terms, adding that the increase is required to “meet the expenses associated with commitments to its (Westar’s) workforce as well as to recover increased operating expenses.”

I’m enraged at the condition in which Wright Tree Service is leaving our 50-, 60-, 70-year old trees. And I’m baffled at the public’s acceptance of this travesty!

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 2 months ago

Westar has been doing very well. The stockholders own the company, and they are not interested in trees, they are interested in this:

One of the main reasons to consider Westar Energy is that it maintained its uptrend in the face of the current correction. A clear sign of its strength is its ability to surge to new highs the moment the market started to rally. Finally, it has a rather low beta, indicating that it's not a very volatile stock.

Reasons to be bullish on Westar Energy (WR):

A good relative strength score of 77 out of a possible 100
Year over year projected growth rates of 6.3% and 6.4% for 2012 and 2012 respectively
A very low beta of 0.38 indicates that the stock is not very volatile
Net income increased from $175 in 2009 to $230 million in 2011
Cash flow per share increased from $3.90 in 2009 to $4.61 in 2011
Sales increased from $1.8 billion in 2009 to $2.1 billion in 2011
A decent yield of 4.52%
A decent 5 year growth rate of 4.8%
A projected 3-5 estimated growth rate of 5.7%
A decent interest coverage ratio of 3.00
A good free cash flow yield of 8.17%
$100k invested for 10 years would have grown to $390K
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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 2 months ago

Unless and until there are city, county, or state limitations on tree trimming, WR will continue to do business as usual.

If limitations on tree trimming do go into effect, then some of the cables will need to go underground. And if that happens, get ready for a whopper of a rate increase for everyone!

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Matthew Herbert 2 years, 2 months ago

and get ready to TOTALLY lose your tree when they have to dig a ditch across the entire city to bury the cable.

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George_Braziller 2 years, 2 months ago

I would never hire Wright Tree Service to work on any of my trees. I've seen some of their work on privately owned trees and even on those they over prune and leave behind a skeleton with a few leaves attached.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 2 months ago

Those trees do look terrible. But I'm not sure that thousands losing power is a great alternative.

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RoeDapple 2 years, 2 months ago

A case of Wright being Wrong?

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Angel Gillaspie 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree 100% with Ms. Evans, and with good reason. They are not only cutting the trees - they are spreading disease from tree to tree. Several years ago, Wright came around and trimmed the trees in our yard using tools that they do not clean or disinfect on a regular basis. They came & hacked several limbs off of our beautiful American Elm tree in our backyard with those filthy tools and infected it with Dutch Elm disease. The leaves began to wilt, then turned yellow, and the tree began to die. Last September we had to pay over $2000 to have the tree removed. The arborist who diagnosed the tree said that it was probably 75 years old. The death of the tree meant no more shade on our house, which kept our AC bills managable, and drove away many birds - we have noticed a considerable decline in the number & variety of birds visiting our feeders. If Westar continues to trim trees using infected tools, Lawrence will soon have no trees at all. Could we at least convince them that their standards of practice are unacceptable? And I'm all for putting the cables underground, Ron - wouldn't that also solve the problem of the trees being in the way?

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 2 months ago

I think that underground cables would solve some problems and create others besides the possibly very high cost which would surely be passed onto the customers. It's possible that if you dig a trench near an older tree, you will be cutting many of its roots and that might kill it. And, if a tree is in a required location of the cable, it will need to be completely removed.

I have an aunt and uncle who were very pleased that there was a 500 year old tree, I believe it was an oak tree, on the lot that they purchased in Virginia many years ago. They were going to have a new home built, and the tree would be in the front yard when the home was completed.

Very soon after their new home was completed behind the 500 year old oak tree, it died. They were very disappointed.

Later they were told that is common when a home with a basement is built near a tree that is very old for it to die because its roots are disturbed. I think that means that after a lot of its roots are cut off it cannot grow new ones soon enough to survive.

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somedude20 2 years, 2 months ago

Have you ever seen a P.O.'ed Lorax? I haven't, just asking. I was not happy when they ganked two trees that blocked the setting sun from my bedrooms but I guess helping the economy by paying higher utility rates is a spillover benefit that i get!

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cowboy 2 years, 2 months ago

They can cut out half the tree , or cut the hole tree down , quit yur whinin

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 2 months ago

Okay, let's just let the trees go and ensure the branches short out the lines during inclement weather! For Pete's sake how much fun do you think it is to have YOUR power out because your neighbor's tree shorted out the transformer or brought the line(s) down. Let me tell you it's NO fun whatsoever. If owners of trees would do some maintenance on their own Westar wouldn't have to come through and clear them out - which all customers pay for by higher rates - and the trees would be less affected because the trimming wouldn't need to be more drastic. Oh, sorry, forgot this is Lawrence......

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Mike George 2 years, 2 months ago

Most of the trees in question are on utility easements or street right-of-way, for which the utility companies have a legal right to trim or clear anything. And most of those situations have existed since before the trees were planted. Like it or not, if you plant and encourage the growth of large trees in those areas, you can eventually be disappointed in the outcome.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 2 months ago

I have a friend that lives in Highland, Kansas. A few years ago there was a huge ice storm, and a whole lot of tree branches fell on the power lines and cut off the electricity to the whole area, and it was not completely restored for a period of weeks.

It is interesting that this was before Westar was trimming so many trees.

It was bitterly cold, and for a couple weeks no one's furnace was working. The Red Cross arrived on the scene to feed people and provide them with a warm place to stay.

Without electricity, your furnace won't work. And, when your furnace won't work, your water pipes freeze and break. When they thaw out and water is restored, there might be a lot of water damage done to your home when the pipes thaw unless you shut off the water really quick. Then it's time to call a plumber to replace the pipes.

Guess what, folks. Many pipes cannot be replaced without ripping out walls, and ceilings if you have plumbing upstairs, as my friend does. In fact, to this day that person's upstairs bathroom has no hot water anymore, because it would have cost too much to rip out the ceilings downstairs to replace the hot water pipe. It was sheer luck that only the hot water pipe burst, the cold water pipe was OK, so at least the upstairs toilet works.

There were a lot of insurance adjusters on the scene after the storm, and for quite some time, the plumbing industry was big business in that area.

I have never heard of anyone in Highland, Kansas, complain about their trees being trimmed, quite likely because they remember far too well what the consequences of them not being trimmed are.

And underground cables? Oh boy, was that a hot topic about three years ago. The gas company had new requirements from the state that I didn't completely understand, but it had to do with a new requirement that the gas meters be very near the house.

So, again in Highland, Kansas, the crew came and dug up the old meters, spliced the pipes, and dug a hole and installed the gas meter near each home.

The whole town was up in arms about the damage done, and last I heard, they were attempting a class action lawsuit to cover all of the damage done to everyone's yard. Some people were claiming that there had been over $2,000 worth of damage to their yard.

And - they hadn't even dig any trenches for the gas lines, they had used the old ones to the houses, all they did was relocate the meters!

So if there were trenches dug for the electrical cables here in Lawrence in an attempt to save the tress, I can't even imagine how many complaints there would be.

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CHEEZIT 2 years, 2 months ago

I understand why they are doing it but why now? Haven't trees been falling on overhead lines since the beginning of the lines. They are just now figuring out that is more economical to trim before disaster??? Why the total hack job? I think they look stupid and what does that convey to visitors in the city??? Arbor city? Yea right!!!

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