The North Carolina Utilities Commission has determined that four proposed provisions of the City of Greensboro's Utility Vegetation Management Ordinance are preempted by state law. The provisions were areas where the City and Duke Energy could not reach an agreement and the NCUC ruled that it has the right to enact rules for utility companies in those areas.
The ruling stems from a complaint the City filed in coordination with Duke Energy seeking to determine whether the City could enact ordinances requiring utility companies to comply with local vegetation trimming standards, trimming cycles, appeals processes, and the large debris removal requirements from residential properties. The City and Duke agreed not to include these provisions as part of the City’s new vegetation management ordinance that was approved by City Council on June 18, 2013. Instead, the City and Duke let the NCUC decide whether Greensboro could legally enact the ordinances.
The NCUC's ruling also struck down the provision in the City’s adopted utility vegetation management ordinance that allowed both the property owner and the utility company to appeal the decision of the City’s urban forester to the NCUC. In all other respects, the City’s utility vegetation management ordinance remains enforceable and in full effect.
The City can appeal the ruling to the North Carolina Court of Appeals but no decision has been made regarding next steps.