Amendment #32 to H.3514

An Amendment Relative to Public Utility Company Vegetation Management Plans

Mr. Cutler of Duxbury move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:



Section XXXX. Chapter 25 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting at the end thereof the following new sections :-



Section XX. Vegetation Management Plans. The Department of Public Utilities shall promulgate rules and regulations that require public utility companies to file, and the Department to approve, a vegetation management plan prior to any vegetation removal in transmission rights of way. A public utility company shall not remove any vegetation, unless in preparation or response to an imminent emergency event, unless the removal is described an approved in a valid vegetation management plan.



Prior to approval by the Department, the Department shall hold a public meeting in each municipality in which the utility company proposes to remove vegetation.



If the vegetation management plan is approved by the Department, the utility company shall file a copy of the plan in each municipality in which the company will be removing vegetation. The company shall have 30 days from the date the Department approves the plan to file a copy with all applicable municipalities. Failure to file with a municipality within 30 days shall invalidate the portion of the vegetation management plan detailing vegetation removal in that municipality.



A vegetation management plan that is approved by the department will be valid for a maximum of four years from the date the Department approves the plan.



Section XX. Content of Vegetation Management Plan. A vegetation management plan will include, in addition requirements specified by the Department, an evaluation of the impact the proposed vegetation removal will have on the each of the following in each municipality in which vegetation will be removed: endangered species, local water supplies, storm water runoff and septic treatment areas. It will also include the company’s plans to restore removed vegetation with compatible species of plants. The company shall bear the cost of restoration efforts.



Section XX. Requirements Before Vegetation Removal Begins. After Department approval of a vegetation management plan, no vegetation shall be removed, unless in response to an imminent emergency event, until the public utility company



(a) completes an official land survey detailing the actual physical boundaries of the right of way through each parcel of land on which vegetation removal will occur. The company shall bear the costs of the surveys; and



(b) provides written notice to each homeowner abutting the right of way at least 30 days prior to the start of vegetation removal. This notice must include the date on which the vegetation removal will begin, describe the process by which the homeowner may request a meeting with company representatives, and any vegetation restoration the company is planning.



Section XX. Requirements During Vegetation Removal. During vegetation removal, the public utility company shall complete stump grindings whenever it cuts trees to the stump. The company shall also re-plant compliant species of plants to partially restore the vegetation it removed.



Section XX. Penalties. The penalty for removing any tree, if the trunk of the tree is outside of the surveyed right of way, shall be a fine of $1,000 per tree removed.