LETTER: Cost of fairness too high for Duke Energy

The North State Journal | Madeline Gray

Cost of ‘fairness’ too high for Duke EnergyNearly two years ago, Duke Energy sued my family to cut down a tree in our front yard. In June 2015, Superior Court Judge Brian Collins denied Duke’s injunction that would have permitted them to remove our tree. Duke Energy repeatedly claimed in court that our tree posed an imminent threat to the safe delivery of power to thousands of Wake County residents. Immediately after Judge Collins ruling I had hired a certified arborist to trim our tree, at my expense, to ensure it was well outside of the distance Duke’s website then stated was safe for a tree to be from this type of power line. That page has since been removed and Duke refuses to state what distance is ‘safe’.In court ordered mediation two days ago Duke reiterated their cornerstone talking point: fairness and equal treatment of every customer their standard, it would be unfair to make an exception for me. The dispute is over the interpretation of an easement agreement, not how (un)fairly Duke treats its customers. Irrespective of that, we do not want, or deserve special treatment.On Tuesday, I accepted Duke’s offer to remove our tree, clean up, grind the stump, and plant a low-growing species approved by Duke in its place with one condition: Duke must do the same for every residential customer in North Carolina; a violation would require $100,000 donation to charity. I would not receive any financial benefit whatsoever.Duke refused — citing the high cost.Regardless of the outcome, it is my hope that others will join our efforts in holding the largest public utility in America, Duke Energy, to the standard they claim as their own: equal and fair treatment for all customers.John KaneRaleigh