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Oklahoma homeowner upset OG&E cut 40-year-old magnolia tree nearly in half

By Taylor Mitchell/KFOR,


MIDWEST CITY, Okla. ( KFOR ) – OG&E has a warning to those with trees that may be too close to powerlines. One Oklahoma homeowner is upset with OG&E contractors who allegedly cut almost 50% of his magnolia tree.

The homeowner told KFOR the tree is about 40 years old. He said for the last three years he’s lived at his home, OG&E has never touched the tree. So, he was surprised to come home and find almost half of his tree completely gone.

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“I was pretty upset. I didn’t quite know what to say,” said Dan Rattliff, Midwest City homeowner.

Rattliff said he’s disappointed to see his once full four-decade-old magnolia tree, now nearly cut in half.  He claims the poor tree trimming by OG&E contractors are to blame.

“It’s not growing any more. So, there was no reason… It’s a mature tree. It’s slow growth. It wasn’t going to get into their lines. There was no reason to cut it. So basically, they could have actually killed the tree,” said Rattliff.

An Oklahoma City certified arborist told KFOR, the magnolia tree is a slow growing tree, but OG&E still has the right to cut trees if they are too close to power lines.

“The utility company, they’ve got an objective to get in there about once every four or five, six years, depending on what their pruning cycle is. So, they want to take it all the way back to the trunk in most cases, and not have to revisit that property. They don’t want any power outages,” said Charlie English, owner of English Tree Service.

English said he regularly has customers like Rattliff who have similar frustrations with OG&E contractors.

“Sometimes it’s difficult. I hate to see it… Between you and I, I think they’re really trying to send a strong message not to plant those variety trees underneath those lines,” said English.

English said it’s possible to kill a tree if it’s overcut., and that’s exactly what Rattliff is most worried about.

“I want to make sure my tree is okay. And if it’s not, then we need to do something,” said Rattliff.

OG&E told KFOR, in most cases, trees should be ten to 14 feet from the electric wires.

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An OG&E spokesperson sent KFOR the following comments regarding the homeowners magnolia tree along with advice for homeowners:

We know that our customers value their trees because they provide shade and beautify where we all live and work. Our crews worked with the customer prior to conducting the work, explaining what needed to occur to protect the reliability of the grid and gaining the customer’s permission.

We understand the customer is unhappy about the end result of the work, which was never our intention. Trees that grow into power lines are a safety hazard and can cause power outages or can damage the grid. Managing trees near power lines is essential to maintaining safe and reliable service for our customers. Our certified arborists and foresters follow a standard process and do their best to preserve trees while pruning them to prevent safety hazards or impacting reliability of electric service for this customer and others in the community.

OG&E certified arborists prune trees on a regular schedule to control the estimated 2.3 million trees growing near overhead power lines. It’s important customers consider overhead power lines and equipment when planning landscaping. Customers should also call 811 to ensure underground lines and other utility equipment are marked on their property before planting. Shorter, slow-growing tree species like redbuds and dogwoods are options to consider.

When planting new trees, some simple planning and following a few guidelines will you plant the right trees in the right place:

  • Never plant trees or shrubs directly under power lines or within 6 feet of poles or pedestals (green electrical boxes).
  • Small trees and shrubs that will grow to less than 15 feet when mature should be planted at least 5 feet from power lines.
  • Medium trees that will mature to be between 15 and 40 feet should be planted at least 20 feet from power lines.
  • Large trees that will grow to be taller than 40 feet should be planted a minimum of 50 feet from power lines.
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