Springtime is almost here. Plants will grow. Temps rise. BBQs get fired up. For many homeowners, utility company tree trimmers will also be around.
ECC thought about that when it saw Union Power’s good LinkedIn message: “During the month of March, our crews are performing right-of-way clearance and maintenance in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and Union counties. Click here for a complete list of locations.”
Why do utilities prune trees? To ensure safe, reliable electric service. Utility companies prune branches away from electric lines. Branches in contact with power lines can cause power outages.
Power companies are granted rights-of-way, or easements, on private property to build and maintain power lines. The choice of how to trim trees and manage vegetation growth near a power line is primarily made by the electric utility, subject to state and local requirements and laws, applicable safety codes, and any limitations or obligations specified in rights-of-way agreements.” (Source)
Power companies have two kinds of lines that deliver electricity: Transmission lines – the big towers you see, and distribution lines – smaller lines that get the power to your home or business, which may be more prone to tree problems.
Duke Energy describes its work this way: “We need to keep as much open space as possible around pad-mounted transformers (the rectangular green boxes located near property lines). That’s why we encourage you not to plant anything but grass within 10 feet of the opening side of the box. We need that area so we can get inside to perform repairs and maintenance.”
Trees are trimmed under strict guidelines, as Dominion Energy notes: “We follow the American National Standard for Tree Care Operations (ANSI A300) for tree trimming—supported by arborists and other tree care experts. …ANSI A300 trimming may appear drastic at first, but results in healthier trees long-term since fewer cuts are used.”
Utilities use several techniques to trim trees. For example, “With directional pruning, entire limbs or portions of limbs growing toward the lines are removed at the main branch or trunk.” The City of Rocky Mount does a good job explaining tree trimming, here.
York Electric advises customers: “Let us know if you notice trees or branches that might pose a risk to our power lines. Just as important, before planting trees in your yard, think about how tall they may grow and how wide their branches may spread. As a rule of thumb, 25 feet of ground-to-sky clearance should be available on each side of our utility poles to give power lines plenty of space. Choose tree varieties with care and plant with power lines in mind.”
Utility customers can usually go to the power provider website to get details of vegetation plans and even copies of the right of way agreements. Be assured that utilities take safe and reliable power service seriously.