TAMPA PALMS — Andy Miller loves the live oaks that shade his backyard from the hot, summer sun, but he knows their days are numbered.
Duke Energy has sent letters to more than 40 Tampa Palms residents to inform them about plans to trim and cut down trees along the company’s transmission line that runs through parts of the suburban community.
“They’ve got to do the maintenance, which hasn’t been done in a while,” Miller said.
The company is trimming beneath and beside the lines along the 100-foot wide corridor to ensure safety and prevent power outages, Miller said.
A Duke Energy representative recently assured him workers would clear trees with as little impact to residents as possible, Miller said.
“They are going to do everything they can to minimize the impact,” he said.
The work area is along the Higgins-Griffin transmission line, a 45-mile span that runs from Oldsmar in Pinellas County through northern Hillsborough County to Lakeland in Polk County, Duke Energy spokeswoman Ann Marie Varga said.
The 115-kilovolt transmission line provides electricity for Duke Energy and Tampa Electric customers in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties, she said.
Duke Energy acquired Progress Energy in a merger last year.
Federal standards require utility companies to remove trees too close to transmission lines as part of routine maintenance.
Trees that come in contact with a transmission line have the potential to sag, causing a power outages. They also can cause fires in lightning storms.
The maintenance crews are expected to begin work in the Tampa Palms area by early October, depending on the weather, Varga said.
Crews will use bucket trucks, mowers and other equipment to remove trees that grow 50 feet on either side of the transmission line.
“We have been working with the homeowners association to get information about the maintenance work in their newsletters,” Varga said.
Duke Energy must have safe and unobstructed access to the maintenance area. They are asking homeowners to remove any personal belongings or material stored in the easement before the work begins.
In some cases, crews will temporarily remove or relocate fences and gates.
Miller, who serves as a member of the Tampa Palms Owners Association board and Tampa Palms Community Development District Board of Supervisors, said he will miss the trees that stand just beyond his backyard on Duke Energy property. It’s a favorite spot for Miller and his wife, Angie, to sit and watch birds and other wildlife.
Miller said his wife and several neighbors have mixed feeling about removing the trees.
The property just beyond their backyard will be mostly bare, but Miller is not overly concerned.
“That was what it looked like when we moved in” in 1990, Miller said. “Over the years, we have cultivated a nice shade area. It’s a shame it has to be done. We are going to work with them to make sure the impact is minimized.”