Posts Tagged ‘vegetation maintenance program’

Integral Energy’s Tree Savagery

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

‘Around 800,000 families and businesses trust Integral Energy to provide a reliable power supply backed up by quality service and value for money.’  []

What a joke! Last month [October 2010] it was revealed that while New South Wales power consumers are being charged record high power bills, Integral Energy is offering Victorians and Queenslanders electricity at rates up to 30 % cheaper.  And yet Integral Energy is New South Wales Government-owned, that is owned by New South Wales residents and taxpayers.

The article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper reads:

‘An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found that EnergyAustralia and Integral Energy are selling discounted power interstate to increase their market share before they are privatised.

‘In a betrayal of struggling NSW families, customers of the two companies in Victoria and Queensland can save as much as $250 a year on power bills through  deals not available in NSW, the paper says.   EnergyAustralia charges NSW customers with higher consumption levels 50 per cent more than similar customers in the Citipower distribution network in Victoria.

‘It also offers Victorians discounts of 10 per cent – twice as much as in NSW.   Integral Energy is offering customers in Queensland a flat rate that saves the typical household about $112.  The discounts are due to more efficient energy markets interstate – particularly in Victoria, where the industry is fully privatised. Similar reforms in NSW were scuttled by the union movement.’

[Source: ‘NSW residents face power bill ‘rip-off’, AAP, 10-Oct-2010,]

At the same time,  according to the Daily Telegraph again, Integral Energy boss, Vince Graham earns a salary of $592,605 plus an annual bonus of $107,356, thanks very much.

‘Energy company bosses have been awarded annual bonuses worth millions of dollars this year after hitting NSW families with record electricity and gas bills.   Thousands of low-income households have been crippled by electricity price rises of 30 per cent since July last year but energy executives have cashed in by collecting huge pay packets.

‘The biggest amounts were paid to private companies, but figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph before the release of the latest annual reports show State Government-owned electricity retailers also handed bonuses of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bosses.

‘…The news will be hard to swallow for taxpayers who continue to be hit by the biggest energy price hikes from NSW Government-owned agencies who have won permission to sharply raise prices in recent years from IPART, the industry price regulator.   Figures show the average family with EnergyAustralia has seen their bills increase by $475.28 a year since 2008; Integral Energy is up by $487.76 a year and Country Energy customers have seen a massive $587.08 increase.

‘Industry analysts and comparison websites say customers have been leaving the state-owned retailers in droves. “We have had at least 15,000 people leaving the state-owned companies for other retailers,” said one comparison site spokesman.’

[Source: ‘Energy bosses raking in millions’, by Nick Gardner, Daily Telergraph, 3-Oct-2010,]

Integral Energy’s deforestation legacy

Not only is Integral Energy one of Australia’s top dirtiest emitters of greenhouse gases from its reliance on coal fired power stations, but it is a key contributor to deforestation through its indiscriminate killing of forests to make way for its power line corridors.

Integral Energy carves many hundreds of kilometres
through high conservation value Blue Mountains World Heritage for its transmission lines.
(Photo by Editor, 6-Jan-2007, free in public domain.)

Rather than follow existing road corridors and place power safely underground to overt the risk from bushfires, Integral Energy doesn’t care about conservation values and just bulldozes and chainsaws its way through World Heritage.  The planners back at head office just get the map out and rule a line trough the forest – the shortest and cheapest distance between two points.   To them they don’t care that on the ground their lines on the map translate to carving through sensitive riparian habitat, swamps, threatened flora and fauna habitat.

Integral Energy power corridors are typically 100 metres across and carve
indiscriminately through valley and hilltop.
(Photo by Editor, 6-Jan-2007, free in public domain.)

Integral Energy falsely proclaims in its motto ‘the power is in your hands‘.  But it is a power unto its own.  It’s destructive environmental actions are protected under State legislation that enable it to indiscriminately destroy any vegetation it considers in its way for power lines.  Individuals and communities have been made legally powerless to contest anything that Integral Energy wants to do when it comes to destroying native forests.

Integral Energy in name may think of itself as being ‘an essential part‘ of the energy needs of New South Wales, but has no integrity in environmental respect and conservation.



Overhead power cables perpetuate ugly streetscapes

Throughout urban settlements, Integral Energy perpetuates a 20th Century practice of overhead powerlines, instead of sensibly placing its power safely underground.  Underground power is out of harms way – away from the risk of traffic collision, away from the risk of high winds and bushfires, and out of sight.  Integral Energy and its baby boomer board are stuck in 20th Century thinking.  They act as if they have a god-given right as a public utility to do what they please and bugger the bush and bugger the community in the process.

Integral Energy’s legacy in Parke Street Katoomba.
The trunk heart of this mature tree has been savagely chainsawed.
(Photo by editor 27-Nov-2010, free in public domain).

Active Tree Services

Integral Energy outsources its tree savagery to the likes of what the industry likes to call ‘arborists‘, which is just a euphemistic highfalutin label for anyone who can rip-start a chainsaw and has a contempt for trees.

Active Tree Services is one such outfit and they reap havoc not just across New South Wales, but across all six states of Australia.   They boas on their website to be “Australia’s largest provider of arboriculture services for energy authorities“.    ‘Arboriculture’ – what?  Is that like a garbologist?

On paper, Active Tree Services claims it adheres to ethical values and adheres to a ‘behaviours model’:

  • ‘commit to achieving higher output’
  • ‘consider, involve and develop our people’
  • ‘actively manage our own and our customers’ risks to lowest practical level’
  • ‘promote and encourage learning’
  • ‘always provide value.’

Yep. Sounds all about building business and profit;  but nothing to do with respecting environmental and community values.   Just another mob who can rip-start a chainsaw and who have a contempt for trees and profit in the process.   The editor discovered the depth of integrity of Active Tree Services last week after it illegally trespassed on private property to lop the trunks of a number of trees, without permission.  the trees were well away from the overhead power lines.  Previously, the company representative had agreed to only to lop two trees underneath the powerlines on the verge.  Clearly this promise was deliberately misleading and deceitful.  One arrived home to the shock to find every tree in the front garden with its trunk severed.  This is excessive and wanton tree hatred.

And Active Tree Services has the gall to claim it is “a leader in the vegetation management industry, we accept our responsibility as a good corporate citizen to minimise our impact on the environment.”  What crap!   Take a look at its carbon footprint through the Blue Mountains in streetscapes of Katoomba and Blackheath!   It thinks vegetation management is about ‘recycling vegetation’ – chainsawing trees into mulch so it can sell it back to its government clients and make more profit.

What the hell does being accredited by SAI Global to AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004 for environmental management actually mean?  Paying an annual fee to have work practices documented in lever arch files?  What a joke!


Tree lopping is environmental vandalism

‘Tree lopping is indiscriminate and mismanaged removal and destruction of a trees natural crown and structure. In it’s severe form, lopping involves the total removal of the tree’s canopy, leaving nothing except stubs.’

‘Tree lopping is premised on the misguided fear that during storms trees will fall on houses.   Other typical excuses include to make the tree shorter and safer, to allow for views, and to allow sunlight through to the pool, clothes line etc.’

‘In the majority of instances, the work is performed by contractors who either “Don’t know any better” or who find lopping most profitable for themselves regardless of the consequences to customers and trees.’

‘Some trees when lopped severley, or at the wrong time of year, may never recover and die. The remaining end of the stub will not callus over and the exposed tissue will be vulnerable to decay and rotting caused by fungi, bacteria, insects, water and sunscald. The stubs become pathways for pathogens to enter and spread into the part of the tree to where they’re attached.’

‘Lopping a tree can destroy its natural form and stability. Lopping a tree creates an ongoing problem and expense because the weaker new growth often needs repeated pruning to keep from growing out of control. Restoring its structural integrity and beauty is extremely difficult, or impossible. Standard Pruning and care of your trees keeps them safer, and saves you money.’

‘Lopping violates Australian Standard (AS4373) on Pruning of Amenity Trees.’



Integral lops tree just before it fell on house

Back in October 2007,  large Eucalypt fell through the roof of a small weatherboard house in Farnell Street, Katoomba.
The local Blue Mountains Gazette reported ‘Katoomba’s Molly Keenan earned herself the nickname “Lucky” last week after coming out unscathed when a large tree toppled onto her living room ceiling.  …The tree collapsed on the Farnells Road home during strong winds last Wednesday, leaving the house in an uninhabitable condition.’   [Source:  ‘Molly’s lucky home escape’, by Shane Desiatnik, Blue Mountains Gazette, 24-Oct-2010]..
What the journalist failed to report, which was confirmed to the editor personally by Molly herself, was that only weeks prior, Integral Energy had taken it upon themselves to lop off a significantly large branch from the tree, causing the tree to become unstable.  After that, the tree was vulnerable to northerly winds.

Take Action!

The are a few ways residents can take action against unscrupulous companies like Integral Energy and the damage it continues to inflict on communities and our natural environment.

1.  Switch away from Integral Energy for your electricity needs.  Visit which is ‘a free price comparison service that finds you the cheapest electricity or gas plan in your area‘.

2. Write a letter of complaint to your local State Government politician (local member).  In the Blue Mountains  currently this is Mr Phil Koperberg MP, 132 Macquarie Road, Springwood NSW 2777.   However, Koperberg has said he is retiring at the State election in March 2011, and there it is widely anticipated that there will be a change of government at that time.

3. Write a letter of complaint to your local newspaper.  Across the Blue Mountains this is The Blue Mountains Gazette.  Visit the website.

4. Write a letter of complaint to the NSW Minister for Energy, to whom Integral Energy is accountable.   Currently this is Paul Lynch M.P, NSW Minister for Energy, Governor Macquarie Tower, Level 34, 1  Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000.

5. If you find the likes of  Active Tree Services lopping your trees, give then a frigid hosing down and tell them to bugger off.

6.  Follow up with a letter of complaint to Active Tree Services programme director, Greg Fitzgerald at 51 Huntingwood Drive Huntingwood NSW 2148, Email:


Call to lobby against overhead cables

The convenient 20th Century government culture  of erecting overhead cables and powerlines is over.

We’re now in the 21st Century and environmental and community social values trump pure economic cost savings mindsets.

We all know the power companies make millions at our expense and pay their executives exorbitant fees.  Their pious excuses that underground cabling is too expensive is blatant and hollow propaganda solely to protect their own selfish pay packets.

Overhead cabling must end.

  • Overhead Cabling is environmentally destructive
  • Overhead Cabling perpetuates recurrent costs of tree lopping
  • Overhead Cabling destroys the amenity and aesthetic values of leafy suburbs
  • Overhead Cabling is unsightly
  • Overhead Cabling is costly to maintain
  • Overhead Cabling puts essential power supply at the mercy of the elements in times of high wind and lighting strikes
  • Overhead Cabling is unsafe whenever work is required near power lines – many men have died from electrocution!
  • Overhead Cabling perpetuates a dodgy ‘arborist’ industry


Underground Cables not Underhand Bonuses!

This editor has put his money where his mouth is and invested $3000 in cabling his power and phone lines from the street to his house underground.


Related Articles:

[1]  Attack of the Mutant Half-Trees

If you’ve driven down Markham Ave., or Broad St., or Urban Ave., or Club Blvd. recently, perhaps you’ve seen the latest addition to the neighborhood — the unsightly, deformed remnants of oak trees after an unfortunately, but certainly not chance, encounter with contractors working for Duke Power:


Yes, our good friends at the local utility are at it again, cutting back street trees to “ensure an acceptable level of service” (read: to keep branches from taking out electrical service lines to houses.)

Read More:


[2]    Vigilantes threaten rough justice on aerial NBN cables

‘Senior members of a national lobby for underground cabling claim to have received threats from angry residents that they will tear down any NBN cables hung overhead in their streets.    The group, Cables Underground, said it “does not advocate violence” and had attempted to counsel irate callers.

But it warned “these are only the ones with whom we come in contact” and said there were likely others that would escape its counseling and potentially vandalise an aerial rollout.

It is highly predictable there will be a substantial electoral backlash,” the assistant secretary of Cables Downunder, Greg Bleazard, said in a submission [PDF] to the Senate Select Committee for the NBN.

“One [caller] threatened to attach a beam and hook to a heavy truck and to drive it down the street tearing down any cables he comes across.

“Others have threatened to throw a hook over the cable and to then pull it down with the aid of a four wheel drive.”

Earlier today, iTnews reported on a community group in Sydney’s inner west that warned the Government against a repeat of Optus’ hybrid fibre coaxial cable rollout in 1995.

The Haberfield Association successfully prevented Optus from stringing up aerial HFC cables in the suburb.   Cables Downunder said it coordinated the actions of independent community groups in the Sydney metropolitan area during the Optus rollout, but had since expanded its scope to become a national lobbyist.

Much of its work was cooperative and “behind the scenes” with local government authorities, Bleazard said.’

[Source: ‘Vigilantes threaten rough justice on aerial NBN cables’, by Ry Crozier, IT News, 26-Aug-2009,,vigilantes-threaten-rough-justice-on-aerial-nbn-cables.aspx]

[3]    Saving Our Trees

A Community Tree Watch Group – working to protect healthy public trees from inappropriate removal.


[4]  Wild storm leaves 50,000 homes without power’  (23-Mar-2010)

‘At the height of the destruction last night  up to 150,000 homes across the city were without power, but crews have worked throughout the night and today to restore power.

Western Power is currently attending to 110 powerlines on the ground and over 350 hazards, restoration work is carrying on in parallell with this work.’


[5]   Truck brings down power lines at South Road, Ridleyton  (22-Nov-2010)

‘Traffic on South Rd will be delayed until tomorrow after a truck brought down high-power electrical lines at Ridleyton this morning.   The road is closed between Torrens Rd and Port Rd because about 200m of power line is lying across the road and on at least two buildings.   The truck clipped a power pole about 10.30am which caused brought down the lines and caused two other power poles to bend.   One pole fell to the ground in a vacant block between two houses.’



[6] Integral Energy Tree Lopping Sparks Residents Ire

‘A Bargo resident has expressed anger and disbelief at tree-lopping activities carried out by Integral Energy at the end of September.

The power company lopped the tops off several trees beneath power lines in Bargo as part of routine procedures.

But Marcel Schondelmaier (pictured), a Bargo resident and retired electrical contractor, said Integral Energy staff had gone too far.

“They cut at least a 3m clearance under the 240V wires before we requested them to desist as we keep a sufficient clearance at all times,” he said. “Tree lopping should be carried out during the winter months wherever possible, not in spring when birds are nesting.”

Mr Schondelmaier worked in the power industry for more than 30 year. He said the distance needed to prevent electricity jumping from powerlines to an object needed to be only 30cm, and that was for up to 12,000 volts, not 240.

An Integral Energy spokesman said the Bargo trees were cut to the required standard.

“Minimum safety clearances between vegetation and powerlines is defined by NSW Industry Safety Steering Committee guidelines and is determined by factors including the voltage of overhead cables, the type of overhead cable and the length of spans between poles,” he said. “Trees underneath a high-voltage powerline require a minimum clearance of 3m and a further 0.5m if they are in a bushfire-prone area like Bargo.”



Then on 15th December 2010, the NSW Government secretly sold Integral Energy to Origin Energy

Origin Energy is set to emerge as the most significant force in the national electricity market after outlaying more than $3 billion for control of two of the state’s three largest power retailers: Integral Energy and Country Energy.  This will catapult Origin to more than 45 per cent of the NSW retail electricity market, and more than a third of the national electricity market, ranking it as the largest player.  Integral has 700,000 retail electricity customers, and Country Energy has 693,000 customers.”     [Source: ‘Origin vaults to the top in power sector‘ by Brian Robins, Sydney Morning Herald,  20101215]


So now New South Wales residents have only three suppliers of electricity – Origin Energy (45% share) ,TruEnergy which has bought EnergyAustralia (42% share) and AGL with the remaining 10% share.

Who can we trust now?

– End of article –

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