Duke Energy customer concerned with tree near power lines

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Darryl Raulerson is concerned. Every time he walks in his backyard in St. Petersburg, he sees a tree scraping against the Duke Energy power lines.

He thinks to himself, it’s only a matter of time.

“When we get a bad storm or something, it’s going to come down and obviously take down the lines with it,” said Raulerson. “It’s been leaning like this for quite some time… It’s getting to the point right now where I’m getting worried with it.”

So Raulerson called Duke Energy. Duke sent out a crew and workers told him the tree was fine. There was nothing to be worried about. Raulerson followed up and called Duke back and felt like he was getting blown off.

“It sounded to me like he just didn’t care. He just wanted to talk to me on the phone and get me off the phone,” said Raulerson. “That’s that. ”

So he called 8 On Your Side.

News Channel 8’s Chip Osowski called Duke Energy and the company issued this statement, saying in part, another crew will come back out to his home and reevaluate the situation:

“The safety of our customers and line workers is a top priority for Duke Energy. We received the customer’s complaint on Nov. 3 and visited this morning (Nov. 13) to investigate, within our 10 business day timeline for non-immediate concerns.

A vegetation management coordinator, who is also a certified arborist, inspected the tree that is located on a nearby neighbor’s property and also reviewed additional spans of power lines in the general area.

Through a visual inspection from the ground, the coordinator found there to be no structural defects or damage that would cause an immediate threat to our lines. As such, it currently meets our reliability and safety specifications.

As a courtesy, we will have another field representative, also a certified arborist, confirm the findings.

Duke Energy regularly inspects its lines and equipment and conducts trimming to meet acceptable clearance specifications on a consistent cycle. This area was reviewed last year.

When the coordinator spoke with the customer this morning about his findings, the customer mentioned a nearby pole with suspected vine growth. We will send a representative to inspect this pole, as well, and cut and spray the vines if needed.

If the owner of the tree would like to remove it, we will work with the private tree company to ensure they can work safely around our electrical equipment.”

Raulerson is pleased the issue is getting another look.

“And thank God you came out here,” said Raulerson. “Maybe you guys can do something and something will be done with that very soon. I hope.”

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