Environment & Science

New Edison tree-trimming campaign to reduce fire risk is getting local pushback

A tree-trimming crew hired by Southern California Edison clears branches from an old pine away from power lines on Sacramento Street in Altadena on March 8, 2019.
A tree-trimming crew hired by Southern California Edison clears branches from an old pine away from power lines on Sacramento Street in Altadena on March 8, 2019.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

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When work crews hired by Southern California Edison cut back the canopy of shade trees in unincorporated Altadena last month, many residents of the foothill community were angered that their trees were left unsightly and mangled.

Altadena residents’ startled and angry responses to the cutting could be repeated in the other fire-vulnerable parts of Edison’s vast service area -- because over the next two years, the utility is mounting a massive new tree-trimming campaign.

It’s aimed at reducing the risk that its power lines might spark new fires -- in which case, Edison could have to pay billions of dollars in liabilities.