Defenders complaint: Vines on lines ugly, dangerous

Utility cuts tree limbs, vines in name of reliability

By Brian Mylar - Anchor/Reporter
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SAN ANTONIO - CPS Energy stepped in to remove vines from utility poles and lines in a Southwest Side neighborhood after a complaint to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Jesse Chavarria said he complained to CPS Energy about the vines but got no response.

"I called CPS (and) I sent them a letter and there's no reply," Chavarria said. "I mean, it doesn't look nice but then, like right here in this intersection, a truck's going to come by and going to yank all the wires off of there."

Chavarria said he also contacted the city.

"The city guy came over," Chavarria said. "He looked at it (and said,) 'You've got to call CPS.'"

A Defenders call to the utility resulted in a promise that a crew would investigate the complaint.

Meanwhile, because other companies use those poles, the Defenders contacted them as well.

The city's Code Enforcement Department in an email wrote: "This would not be something we would cite residents for nor is it something the city would abate."

Time Warner Cable also wrote in an email: "CPS is responsible for the maintenance of the pole."

And AT&T wrote: "Our crew found the pole ... the pole belongs to CPS Energy."

When it comes to vines, CPS Energy said it usually does not take action unless the vines are affecting their power transmission lines.

However, in this case, they stepped in and killed the vines at the root and took most of them down.

"The vines are significantly smaller (and) thinner, so they really don't cause a lot of issues like a two- or three-inch branch," said Ricardo Renteria, manager of Power Quality, Reliability and Vegetation Management for CPS Energy. "They were not a safety or reliability concern but we were out there, so we went ahead and took care of it."

Renteria said his crews of contracted trimmers work year-round, mostly trimming trees that are near power lines.

This week, they were in a Shavano Park backyard, first using ropes to climb trees, then firing up chainsaws to cut branches close to power lines. It is grueling and sometimes dangerous work, but the utility sees it as vital to protecting its lines.

"That's what we attempt to do with the 26 crews that we have is try and address as many issues as we can before they do become an outage," Renteria said. "If we see a big safety concern or reliability concern, we acknowledge them immediately."

Renteria said customers should call in if tree branches are endangering power lines.

"We take the time to investigate every single one of them when they come in," Renteria said. "We look at what the customer provides us as far as details."

CPS Energy can be reached at 210-353-2222 or 210-353-HELP. Or, for more information, click here.

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