Look at these trees! Video and pix. Wrath of the power company.

Look at this tree.

Bob P.  from Arlington, Texas sent me this photo of his backyard tree, cut by Oncor Electric Delivery’s tree-pruning company.

The tree pruners "probably laughed about it all day long," the angry homeowner says.

The tree pruners "probably laughed about it all day long," the angry homeowner says.

“Only someone with a sick sense of humor would ‘prune’ a tree the way the one in my backyard was cut,” he says. “The Oncor contractor and the rest of his team probably laughed about it all day long. It would have been merciful to cut the entire tree to the ground.”

For years, I’ve received heart-breaking letters from folks whose trees are butchered by Oncor Electric Delivery, which serves one-third of Texas. Oncor owns the lines and transformers that the retail electricity providers offer homeowners and businesses.

Oncor tree trim by Rodger Mallison for Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Oncor tree trim by Rodger Mallison for Fort Worth Star-Telegram

As I shared in the Nov. 29, 2009 Dave Lieber column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Oncor has operated an ineffective, poorly-managed, non-communicative and disorganized tree-trimming program.

Now along comes Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate.

Tate is one of America’s finest mayors, and his town, not surprisingly, is the best little town in Texas.

This is one more reason he gets the title.

Tate is an old-fashioned, handshake mayor. He could easily have been a U.S. Marshall a hundred years ago. Now he’s taken Grapevine to the highest heights. And he’s taking on Oncor for the butchering of hundreds of trees in the best little town in Texas.

“I feel like The Watchdog on this,” he told me.

Tate is a watchdog that won’t let go.

Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate/Courtesy Mike Lewis Photography

Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate/Courtesy Mike Lewis Photography

Turns out Oncor has messed up trees in other area towns, too. Homeowners complain that when they call for information about tree trimmings on their property, they can’t get any information. When the trimmers arrive, they often don’t speak English.

Tate complained to the Public Utility Commission. He said that got their attention. And it did.

I recently attended a summit with Tate, a few other mayors and top officials of Oncor.

Oncor is overhauling its tree trimming program.

The most important part is the addition of mandatory “customer sensitivity” classes for supervisors of the five tree trimming companies used by Oncor.

Oncor has also created a toll-free number (1-800-518-2380) for homeowners who have questions when tags are placed on their door. Usually, a tag means a tree trimming crew may come in five days or so to trim away from electricity lines.

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See for yourself. In this brief video by Dave Lieber, I show you some examples of Oncor’s tree trimming work in Grapevine.

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More information

oncor 1Visit www.oncor.com/trees.

– State law prohibits residents from trimming trees near power lines.

– Oncor urges homeowners to use Oncor-sent trimmers or hire their own qualified trimmers.

– Homeowners can also pay to bury lines underground.

– Homeowners should avoid planting spreading trees within 50 feet of power lines.

– Read Texas law here about overhead power lines.

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Dave Lieber, The Watchdog columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is the founder of Watchdog Nation. His book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong, won two national book awards in 2009 for social change.