The Public Service Commission proposes expensive new rules to reduce the possibilities of storm-related power outages.
The commission wants utilities to have regular inspections of electric utility poles and file detailed records of the inspections with the Commission.
The big rules, though, have to do with tree-trimming and vegetation controls. Utilities would have to inspect all energized conductors to see if vegetation management is needed. The rules also say nothing considered a woody tree can grow within 15 feet of any transmission line right of way; No woody plant species can grow within 15 feet of the border.
Chairman Jeff Davis knows the proposals will raise some private property rights issues and might have some problems with some local ordinances. But he says the rules will encourage utilities to work with property owners more than they do now.
Cost? He’s very conscious of that issue. He says the four electric utilities in the state say the total cost of compliance with the rules would be $25,000,000. Ameren says its expenses would be $180,000,000, which could translate into a double-digit rate increase.
A public hearing on the rules will be held in August. Davis thinks the final rules will be issued in November.