Tree trimming around power lines by New Jersey's electricity suppliers wouldn't be a policy decision, it would be a requirement, under a bill that's awaiting consideration by the full state Assembly.

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The Assembly Utilities Committee approved legislation by its chair, Upendra J. Chivukula (D-17), that would place responsibility on power companies to conduct vegetation management as a means of blunting damage from future storms on the order of Superstorm Sandy.

According to Chivukula, the bill had its genesis in post-storm hearings that involved utility companies. "One of the lessons we learned from Sandy and from information provided by utilities," he said in a statement, "is the importance of vegetation management in preventing "

"Sandy took out more trees in New Jersey than  any previous storm in recorded history," he continued. "New Jersey utilities reported that more than 113,000 trees were destroyed or damaged...leading to the downing of thousands of poles and wires, causing major power outages." He estimates that some 9,000 utility poles were felled.

Assembly Bill A-4285 would require electric utilities to conduct vegetation management on any property that goes on  the market, prior to sale, if trees, shrubs or other plant life pose a threat to their service lines.