Tree Pruning Near Utility Lines

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 5,486
    Bob Bell with the Tree Care Industry association discusses the process of utility pruning.

    Bob Bell: Hi my name is Bob Bell and I am with Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and I'm here today on behalf of the Tree Care Industry Association to talk to you about utility tree pruning.

    Pruning trees in your electrical facilities is different than pruning trees for other purposes. Trees and power lines just don't mix. Most people from time to time have experienced a power outage whether it's a momentary outage or even an extensive blackout.

    Vegetation and power lines are the number one cause of outages in the United States. Public safety is the primary purpose for utility tree pruning. Besides public safety the reliability of electric system and the protection of the electric system are the other primary purposes of doing this work.

    But in addition to that, the long-term health of the tree and the long-term integrity of the urban forest is also a priority which is why utilities generally specify that their contractors or tree crews use ANSI A300 standards when performing the work.

    ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute and those standards are the generally accepted standards for the industry. A properly constructed specification for tree pruning along with properly trained workers helps ensure that your trees pruned properly.

    Proper pruning of a tree can be anything from risk reduction pruning, where dead limbs and branches are removed from a tree to prevent them from falling into a line, or sometimes directional pruning where a tree branch is prune back to a subordinate limb that is growing away from the electrical facilities. This helps the growth of the tree grow away from the lines instead of growing towards the lines, and when done properly it helps to preserve the long-term health of the tree.

    Now in some cases significant portions of the crown of the tree need to be removed in order to effectively clear the lines. In cases like that many times it's better to remove the tree entirely and look towards planting the right tree in the right place. A low growing tree that will fit in the corridor, with the power lines as opposed to a tree that's going to constantly be in conflict with the power lines.

    One of the most important things you need to realize as a homeowner is that unless you are a line clearance qualified tree worker you should not be doing this work yourself. This work should only be done by skilled qualified trained professionals that know how to work around the energized electrical facilities.

    One of the keys to successfully pruning trees near electrical facilities is to have a properly written specification, and most utilities incorporate the ANSI A300 standard into their work specifications. A properly written specification plus a properly trained crew equals proper work done in the field.

    One thing I would like to leave you with today is that communication is key. Good communications between the electric company and the property owner helps ensure that there are no surprises and it clears the path to the safe reliable electric service.

    So contact your local tree care professional today to help ensure the safety at your home and your trees.