Problem Solvers: KCPL Snubs Man’s Act of Kindness

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A Johnson County homeowner is facing hundreds of dollars in damage all because he offered to help crews trying to reach a downed power line.

FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar has the details on a Kansas City Power and Light policy that could have you thinking twice before you offer your backyard to a lineman.

You may have already forgotten last weeks' storm, but Marc Neighbor hasn't. Nearly a dozen trees along his fence line were down by a tree service working for Kansas City Power and Light. But what has Mr. Neighbor really upset is that KCPL is telling him it's his responsibility to clean up all the mess. KCPL says that any tree it cuts down after a storm must be cleaned up by the homeowner.

Here's the rub, the tree that lost a limb during that storm and took out the power line was not even in Mr. Neighbor's backyard. It was in the yard behind his.

But when Mr. Neighbor saw KCPL crews looking for a way to access the downed line, he went outside and offered his yard.

The crews fixed the power line and  then an hour later KCPL sent over Asplundi tree service to chop down every tree in Mr. Neighbor's backyard that was under the power line.

"I thought it was pretty aggressive cutting, but I figured they know what they are doing and would clean up the mess they were making," said Mr. Neighbor. But KCPL refused to help Mr. Neighbor get rid of any of the trees it had ordered cut down, citing a policy that says it isn't responsible for cleanup in the aftermath of a storm.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers shared Mr. Neighbor's surprise  that KCPL was evoking a storm cleanup policy after a storm that was so minor most of us barely remember it. We could see if the storm had been huge and had required crews to come in from other cities, but during this storm most people's power was restored in 24 hours.

"I wouldn't expect them to clean up the whole city," said Mr. Neighbor. When it was one yard and it wasn't even my yard that caused the damage."

We appealed his case to KCPL, but it refused to budge, telling us it would have to increase electric rates if it became responsible for clean up after every storm and it couldn't make exceptions. We didn't want to leave Marc Neighbor stranded so we called the friendly folks at Olathe Tree Service who have offered to clean up this good samaritan's backyard mess for free.

We do want to remind people that KCPL does have the legal authority to access their power lines, no matter where they are located. Although customers may be frustrated with KCPL's storm pick up policy, no customer can deny them access to their lines.

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