Sonoma Residents Fight PG&E Tree-Cutting Plan
Some Sonoma County residents are fighting a PG&E plan to cut down thousands of trees alongside the company’s power lines.
PG&E has always trimmed trees growing near its large transmission lines. Last year the company alarmed residents, however, when it announced plans to remove what it called “incompatible plants” from a 39-mile right-of-way between the Geysers and Petaluma.
PG&E says the tree-management plan is a response to federal regulations that impose harsh penalties for outages and other incidents.
Save Our Sonoma Trees, a group organized by residents, is fighting PG&E’s removal plan. SOS Trees board member Jim Casciani says the company’s pruning program has worked well for decades. Widespread tree removal will result in soil erosion, he says, and damage property values. “People don't realize what we're talking about until they see the blue dots and the red ribbons on the trees and realize this is not just a little bit of cutting a tree here or there, but literally thousands of trees.”
PG&E says it will consult with property owners and decide which trees to cut on a case-by-case basis. But Assemblymember Michael Allen, whose district extends into Sonoma County, says that still leaves the company’s intentions unclear. Many residents complain that the company has not said how many trees it will remove, nor has it defined exactly what criteria it will use.
Allen says he wants the state Public Utilities Commission to set clear guidelines for PG&E. “We keep getting assurances from PG&E, but it goes back to trust and communication.”
PG&E, which postponed the plan in May, says it will begin the project sometime this year.