It's tree-trimming time again in Beaufort.
SCE&G has submitted its tree-trimming plan for 2013 to the city, and cutting is expected to begin the second week of January.
Trees near transmission lines will be trimmed first; branches near distribution lines, which are smaller and lower, will be trimmed starting in June, according to a copy of the plan provided by the city.
The electric company trims trees and branches around wires on a five-year cycle, rotating throughout the county and trimming different areas each year. In 2010, some residents loudly protested what they felt were severe trims.
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Most of the downtown areas affected then are not on the to-do list for next year, although the transmission lines run throughout Beaufort, city landscape architect Liza Hill said. A map provided to the city by SCE&G shows trimming focused on parts of the city south of Depot Road, areas near the Whale Branch River and in Port Royal. Hill is working with the city's tree board and SCE&G to minimize extreme cuts.
"We just want to make sure we have exhausted every possibility," Mayor Billy Keyserling said.
One possibility is moving ahead with a test project to bury power lines the board discussed last year. One of the test areas, which are each only a few blocks, is on the list of areas to be trimmed, Hill said. However, the cost of burying lines in the three pilot areas was about $1.1 million, and about $500,000 just for the area in Mossy Oaks where trimming is scheduled this year. City manager Scott Dadson suggested during Tuesday's City Council meeting that trimming money could go toward the cost of burying lines instead.
Dadson said there will be a campaign to tell the public where and when trimming will occur. Keyserling suggested holding a public forum so residents can ask questions.