Mayor, Council to file complaint with PSC

Mayor Linda Gorton today asked the Urban County Council to take a strong stand against Kentucky Utilities and its decision to clear-cut trees near transmission lines in Lexington.

The Council gave initial approval to Gorton’s plan to file a formal complaint with the Kentucky Public Service Commission concerning Kentucky Utilities’ actions, and to seek immediate relief by asking the courts to impose an injunction to stop the chain saws.

Gorton said the complaint and injunction are being prepared and will be filed as soon as possible.

“Over the past year we have been working with KU to try to find a way forward that protects our trees and our electric grid because clearly, both are important,” Gorton said. “Sadly, the company has not shown our city respect in return. With few exceptions, they have ignored our requests. Yesterday, the company again started cutting down trees indiscriminately. Trees that could not possibly interfere with transmission lines.”

Vice Mayor Steve Kay said, “It’s unfortunate that an important corporate citizen is unwilling to listen to the clear concerns of the community it exists to serve. As a Council, we have been committed to improving our environment. This is a real setback.” 

KU is applying the same clear-cutting practices it uses in more rural areas, where there are acres of trees, to Lexington neighborhoods. “That makes no sense. We have worked hard and invested resources to build a tree canopy. Trees are important to our city. Lexington has been a Tree City USA for 33 years. Trees help control stormwater, improve air quality, provide shade and enhance our neighborhoods.”

The city does not have the power to stop KU from cutting down trees, Gorton said. “We are talking to our legislators, asking them to pass new legislation that will force the utility to work with us.” In the meantime, we are hoping to find some relief from the courts.”