Pruning trees to cut risk of power failures may yield tax break in N.J.

Property owners in New Jersey may soon be eligible for an income tax credit for trimming trees near power lines.

The goal of a bill advanced by an Assembly committee is to prevent power interruptions in the future.

A conversation with a neighborhood resident who was without power after Sandy gave Assemblyman Joe Cryan the idea for the legislation.

“A guy said to me, ‘Look at his tree. it’s huge. He gets shade in the summer, and I get to lose my power when it goes down.'”You don’t know which tree is going to take down the power,” said Cryan, D-Union. “I’m not saying it’s a 100 percent-foolproof bill, but it’s another step in part of the process in Sandy recovery.”

Cryan said he isn’t sure just how much money the tax credits would take out of the state’s general fund. If the program becomes more successful than anticipated, additional funding might come from the Economic Development Authority, he said.

Many people realized their trees needed pruning before Sandy hit but couldn’t afford to take care of it, said Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, D-Somerset, chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

“It is very difficult for them to get them cut because it costs a lot of money. So this will provide a tax credit because it’s in the interest of the public good,” he said.

A contractor, shade tree commission, or licensed tree expert would have to certify it was the type of preventive work intended to be covered by the legislation.

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