TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Neighbors in Tampa’s Riverside Heights community started growing concerned in June when they noticed Tampa Electric Company’s contractors trimming trees away from power lines. At the time, they told 8 On Your Side they witnessed workers nearly cutting trees in half to keep branches off of powerlines.

After last week’s major storms, some complain the trees are lopsided enough that the storm was able to tilt them into service lines. WFLA observed one tree leaning into a line, and neighbors believe it only moved because it had been hacked off on one side.

“Well, there’s a safety issue because it’s half cut, the tree’s unbalanced, so any strong wind, any heavy rains, it’s going to make that branch touch, the line is going to come down,” Ramon Lopez said.

He believes TECO should be responsible for the tree in his neighbor’s yard.

However, TECO told 8 On Your Side:

  • When Tampa Electric trims trees around our power lines, we use trimming techniques that protect the health and structure of trees.
  • Homeowners are responsible for their trees on their property – even if that tree is impacting the service line (which is the line that runs from the street to their house)
  • Tampa Electric is happy to come to a customer’s address to make the service line safe, so a homeowner can trim or remove a tree that’s been damaged by a storm.

Lopez worries the trees are unbalanced and said he’s contacted arborists who have similar concerns. He has filed a complaint with TECO and several employees came out to asses, but reiterated that the trees are the responsibility of the homeowner.

TECO told 8 On Your Side that they plan to look into these specific cases soon.