News and Tribune

November 5, 2013

Tree troubles in New Albany tied to power station

City at odds with LG&E over utility project

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — New Albany plans to file a complaint with the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission against Louisville Gas and Electric Co. over alleged development issues pertaining to the construction of a power station near Interstate 265.

The city is concerned about “the aggressive removal of foliage and the clear cutting of hardwood trees” in a project being completed by the Louisville-based utility company, a news release issued by Mayor Jeff Gahan’s office Tuesday evening stated.

During a Board of Public Works and Safety meeting Tuesday morning, New Albany Building Commissioner David Brewer said he had been notified of issues regarding erosion and the removal of trees off Kenzig Road. A residential development is being constructed in the area, which is near State Street and I-265, but Brewer said in a follow-up interview that the tree removal in question doesn’t appear to be tied to that project.

Brewer said at about 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday that he had not heard back from LG&E about the alleged issues.  

In a statement sent to the News and Tribune Tuesday night, LG&E confirmed it’s in the process of constructing a transmission breaker station about 500 feet southwest of the end of Kenzig Road.

As part of the construction, the company is constructing a mile-long transmission line to interconnect with Duke Energy, LG&E Director of Media Relations Natasha Collins said.

“In preparation for the project, easements for the location of the line were purchased and owners of the land where the lines will be located were notified before construction began,” she said.

“Trees along existing construction roads were also cleared and will be replaced by the project’s completion in March of 2015.”

A 200-foot right-of-way has been cleared in the area where the electric line will be located. Collins added the necessary permits for the project were obtained by LG&E.

Pictures released regarding the complaint by the city showed several trees that appeared to have been recently been cut from a hillside.

LG&E also appears to have failed to meet common construction and development standards, the release from Gahan’s office stated.

Brewer added the city wasn’t alerted of the project nor did it approve the work.

“When you have mass amounts of clear-cutting going on it throws up red flags, and all we ask is they hold a public meeting and make people aware,” Brewer said.

The city will file a complaint with the IURC “on behalf of the affected residents and citizens to ensure that the common construction and development standards are met and/or exceeded for the project,” the release from Gahan’s office stated.