Rivendell Tree Experts

Can Your Electric Company Trim Your Trees Without Your Consent?

Is your electric company within its rights to come on your property and prune or remove trees that interfere with electric service? ​

It may seem like they’re overstepping their boundaries, but your electric company can trim your trees without your permission. They’re only doing their best to prevent the next blackout.


Tree Trimming Prevents Power Outages

On Aug. 14, 2003, a downed transmission line in Ohio caused 50 million electric customers in the Midwest, Northeast and Ontario, Canada, to lose power, some for a few hours, some for up to a week. After studying the causes of the blackout, the U.S. and Canadian governments determined that a lack of tree maintenance directly contributed to the outage.

Since then, state governments have enacted laws that comply with national standards for tree maintenance near power lines. Preventing outages from downed trees is possible, so your utility company is required by law to do everything in their power to keep tree growth from interfering. If they don’t, they could face a multimillion-dollar fine.

Electricity is vital to survival, and a failure could cause a fire, damage nearby homes or inflict a widespread outage. Your electric company takes tree-trimming seriously. They typically aim for at least 10 feet of clearance near distribution lines. If fast-growing trees are situated close by, this target distance increases.

If a tree poses a continuous problem, the utility company may decide to remove it, but they will consult with the property owner beforehand, sometimes providing a voucher for a replacement tree they can plant elsewhere on their property.

Plan Tree Planting with Power Lines in Mind

You can help prevent the need for constant tree trimming near power lines by paying attention to where you plant your trees in the first place. If you’re planting a tree underneath or near a power line, choose a low-growing species with an expected height of under 25 feet. Trees that grow over 25 feet should be planted at least 25 feet away from power lines. Trees that grow over 35 feet should be planted at least 50 feet away.

Call a Professional — Don’t DIY Trim Near Power Lines

Your electric company follows an annual tree trimming maintenance plan, but you can help by having your trees trimmed by a professional before they get too close to power lines. Many arborists are not licensed to trim within 10 feet of power lines, so to ensure proper pruning and tree health, plan ahead before trees get too close. ​

Whatever you do, don’t climb it or try to trim it on your own. Tree trimming, especially near power lines, is a dangerous job that requires the skill of a professional. Rivendell Tree Experts will help keep all trees on your property safely pruned — call today for an evaluation of your trees.