It's all relative. You, coming from the viewpoint of a tree care professional, see it as unnecessary butchery. The utility, coming at it from a public service perspective, views it as effective and cost efficient. Another person might call all arborists butchers because the majority of us remove trees daily without any legitimate reason.Reading through this thread I am amazed, horrified and disgusted. Ignorance is no excuse. Laziness is no excuse. Time savings is no excuse. Any person climbing a live tree should not be using spurs. Unacceptable from any professional organization and it harms the tree no matter the location of the tree. Anyone that tries to argue otherwise is being ignorant. The line clearance companies in my area, Asplhund and Davey are butchers. The needless top trees and butcher them in attempts to kill them. The practice of using spurs on anything but a tree coming down or a utility pole is just wrong.
The utility is there to deliver a reliable power supply at a reasonable cost. Arborists are torn between meeting the demands of the contract and doing what's best for the tree. Unfortunately, in a capitalist society, money trumps all. In a perfect world there wouldn't be trees anywhere near or under power lines.