Bill Text: NY A05376 | 2023-2024 | General Assembly | Introduced

Bill Title: Regulates the cutting, topping and removal of trees upon rights of way by providers of electric service; requires the planting of replacement trees in certain cases; provides for the enforcement of such provisions.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 4-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2024-01-03 - referred to energy [A05376 Detail]

Download: New_York-2023-A05376-Introduced.html

                STATE OF NEW YORK


                               2023-2024 Regular Sessions

                   IN ASSEMBLY

                                      March 9, 2023

        Introduced  by M. of A. SHIMSKY -- read once and referred to the Commit-
          tee on Energy

        AN ACT to amend the public service law, in  relation  to  tree  cutting,
          topping and removal along electricity distribution lines

          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section 1. The public service law is amended by adding a new article 3
     2  to read as follows:
     3                                  ARTICLE 3
     4                      TREE CUTTING, TOPPING AND REMOVAL
     5                       ALONG ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION
     6                                    LINES
     7  Section 55. Legislative findings.
     8          56. Definitions.
     9          57. Prohibition.
    10          58. Notification.
    11          59. Regulations.
    12          60. Enforcement.
    13          61. Severability.
    14    § 55. Legislative findings. The legislature hereby recognizes the need
    15  for the reliable delivery of electric power to the residents  and  busi-
    16  nesses  of this state. Trees and tree limbs, if not properly maintained,
    17  may endanger such reliable delivery of electric power, thus  making  the
    18  cutting and/or removal of trees a necessity.
    19    However,  the  legislature  also recognizes that trees provide various
    20  benefits to the people of the state,  including  prevention  of  floods,
    21  purification  of  water,  reduction  of  soil erosion, removal of carbon
    22  dioxide from the air, protection from the elements, and  enhancement  of
    23  community character and individual property values.
    24    The purpose of this article is to regulate tree cutting and removal by
    25  electric corporations and municipalities by requiring:

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 5376                             2

     1    1. advance notice of cutting to property owners and municipalities;
     2    2. adherence to regulations established by the commission;
     3    3.  reasonable efforts to minimize and mitigate possible environmental
     4  damage from any necessary tree removal, such as planting  of  new  trees
     5  compatible  with  the character of the community and the electric lines;
     6  and
     7    4. municipal input in determining when, which and how trees are to  be
     8  cut.
     9    §  56. Definitions. As used in this article, the following terms shall
    10  mean:
    11    1. "Arborist" means any person engaged in the practice  of  arboricul-
    12  ture  who,  through  experience,  education  and training, possesses the
    13  competence to provide for or supervise the management of trees.
    14    2. "Cut" or "cutting" means the removal of any part of a tree.
    15    3. "Distribution line" means any electric line  which  distributes  or
    16  which  is  intended to distribute electric power to one or more residen-
    17  tial and/or commercial customers.
    18    4. "Pruning" means the selective cutting of tree parts to meet specif-
    19  ic goals and objectives.
    20    5. "Right of way" means an easement or other right of way  granted  to
    21  an  electric  corporation  or municipality and upon which a distribution
    22  line or service line is situate.
    23    6. "Service line" means an electric line used to  connect  a  distrib-
    24  ution  line  to an individual customer's meter or other point of attach-
    25  ment.
    26    7. "Tree" means any self-supporting woody  plant  of  a  species  that
    27  grows  at maturity to an overall height of not less than ten feet, has a
    28  single trunk or multiple trunks which in the aggregate are not less than
    29  six inches in diameter, as measured four and  one-half  feet  above  the
    30  ground.
    31    8. "Topping" means the cutting of most of the canopy of a tree for the
    32  purpose of producing branch stubs.
    33    § 57. Prohibition. No electric corporation or municipality shall cut a
    34  tree within a right of way, except as provided pursuant to this article.
    35    §  58.  Notification. 1. No electric corporation or municipality shall
    36  cut a tree within a right of way unless it provides  written  notice  of
    37  the  proposed  tree  cutting  to  the governing body of the municipality
    38  where the tree is situate, the grantor of the right of way or his or her
    39  successor in interest, and, if the right of way was granted by a govern-
    40  mental entity, to each owner of the property immediately adjacent there-
    41  to.
    42    2. The notices required by subdivision one of this  section  shall  be
    43  delivered  by personal service or first class mail not less than fifteen
    44  days nor more than thirty days prior  to  the  date  the  proposed  tree
    45  cutting is to occur.
    46    3.  Each  such  notice shall include the names of the specific streets
    47  upon which trees will be cut; the approximate date or dates  upon  which
    48  trees  will be cut within specific rights of way; the name and telephone
    49  number of the electric corporation's or  municipality's  contact  person
    50  for  the  specific right of way; and a summary of the provisions of this
    51  article.
    52    § 59. Regulations. No electric corporation or municipality shall cut a
    53  tree within a right of way, except as provided in this section.
    54    1. Pruning. (a) Every electric corporation and municipality  shall  be
    55  subject  to rules and regulations promulgated by the commission relating
    56  to pruning. Such rules and regulations, to the extent practicable, shall

        A. 5376                             3

     1  reflect the most recent  edition  of  the  American  National  Standards
     2  Institute  A-300  (Part  1) standard, "Tree, Scrub and Other Woody Plant
     3  Maintenance - Standard Practices (Pruning)".
     4    (b)  An electric corporation or municipality may prune a tree within a
     5  right of way only when an arborist,  designated  by  the  department  of
     6  agriculture  and  markets,  certifies  that  the  part of the tree to be
     7  pruned is dead, diseased, a broken branch, resting against a service  or
     8  distribution  line,  or  poses or could reasonably be expected to pose a
     9  danger to a service or distribution line.
    10    (c) No electric  corporation  or  municipality  shall  engage  in  the
    11  topping  of  a  tree in a right of way so as to remove more than twenty-
    12  five percent of the foliage within an annual growing season.
    13    (d) An electric corporation or municipality may by agreement with  the
    14  grantor  of a right of way or his or her successor in interest, prune or
    15  contract for the pruning of a tree within such right of way  in  accord-
    16  ance  with the rules of the commission promulgated pursuant to paragraph
    17  (a) of this subdivision.
    18    2. Removal. (a) An electric corporation or municipality may  remove  a
    19  tree  from  a  right  of  way  only  when an arborist, designated by the
    20  department of agriculture and markets, certifies that  the  tree  to  be
    21  removed  is  dead,  diseased, broken, that its branches are so entangled
    22  with a service or distribution line that pruning  cannot  be  reasonably
    23  expected  to  prevent interference with such line, its trunk is touching
    24  such a line, or otherwise poses a danger to a  service  or  distribution
    25  line if not removed.
    26    (b) No electric corporation or municipality shall remove a tree within
    27  a  right of way unless it shall have provided written notice thereof and
    28  the certification of an arborist  pursuant  to  paragraph  (a)  of  this
    29  subdivision,  as  provided  in  section fifty-eight of this article, and
    30  shall have received the written consent of each party to which notice is
    31  required to be provided not less than five days prior to the removal  of
    32  the tree.
    33    3.  Emergencies.  Nothing  in this article shall be deemed to prohibit
    34  any electric corporation or municipality from cutting, pruning,  topping
    35  or  removing any tree that has fallen on a service or distribution line,
    36  or is in imminent danger of doing so.
    37    4. Tree plantings. (a) If requested by the grantor of a right  of  way
    38  or  his  or  her  successor in interest or the appropriate city, town or
    39  village, an electric corporation or municipality shall plant a  replace-
    40  ment tree for each tree that it removed within a right of way.
    41    (b)  Each  replacement tree shall be planted in close proximity to the
    42  tree it replaces and shall be a tree native to the region of  the  state
    43  in  which  it is planted, as determined by the department of agriculture
    44  and markets. All other  terms  and  conditions  of  the  planting  of  a
    45  replacement  tree  shall  be  as  agreed upon in writing by the electric
    46  corporation or municipality and the person  or  entity  requesting  such
    47  planting;  provided, that if no such agreement is reached, within forty-
    48  five days, upon such terms and conditions as shall be determined by  the
    49  commission.
    50    (c)  In  any  instance in which the owner of a right of way, or his or
    51  her successor in interest, fails to request the planting of  a  replace-
    52  ment  tree,  the  commission  shall  require the electric corporation or
    53  municipality to:
    54    (i) take such action as is necessary to insure against  adverse  envi-
    55  ronmental  effects,  including soil erosion and drainage in the vicinity
    56  of the removed tree; or

        A. 5376                             4

     1    (ii) contribute a sum of money for use by the appropriate  city,  town
     2  or village for the planting of trees.
     3    5.  Regulations. (a) The commission shall promulgate any and all rules
     4  and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this article.
     5    (b) The commission shall  establish  and  conduct  an  ongoing  public
     6  education program on the provisions of this article.
     7    § 60. Enforcement. 1. The commission, upon receipt of a complaint of a
     8  violation  of  this  article,  may  issue  a stop work order or may seek
     9  injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction to  restrain  any
    10  such violation and/or compel the restoration of the premises affected by
    11  such violation.
    12    2.  The  grantor of a right of way or his or her successor in interest
    13  may bring a civil cause of action for damages incurred as the result  of
    14  a violation of this article.
    15    3. Any electric corporation or municipality found by the commission to
    16  have  violated any provision of this article shall be subject to a civil
    17  penalty of not less than five hundred dollars per tree that is damaged.
    18    § 61. Severability. If any clause,  sentence,  paragraph,  section  or
    19  part  of this article shall be adjudged by any court of competent juris-
    20  diction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or inval-
    21  idate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its  operation  to
    22  the  clause,  sentence,  paragraph,  section,  or  part thereof directly
    23  involved in the controversy in  which  such  judgment  shall  have  been
    24  rendered.
    25    § 2. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after
    26  it  shall  have  become a law. Effective immediately any rules and regu-
    27  lations necessary to implement the provisions of this act on its  effec-
    28  tive  date  are  authorized  to  be made and completed on or before such
    29  date.