Tree Maintenance. Power line tree trimmer

Trees, Safety and Electric Reliability

Trees and limbs that contact power lines can cause outages and hazards. Idaho Power prunes trees to keep them away from our power lines, improving safety and making the energy we deliver more reliable and affordable.

Safety Precautions

Never attempt to prune a tree near our lines yourself. If you have a tree near one of our lines that you think needs to be pruned or removed, or if you notice a tree interfering with power lines, contact us online or call 208-388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151.

Did you know?

Attaching material, including signs and plants, to power poles is dangerous and illegal (Idaho Code 18-7029 and 18-7031; Oregon Code 164-365). These materials make it hard for us to access poles and power lines if there’s a problem, and they can interfere with energy service.

Line Clearing 101

Idaho Power hires qualified line-clearing contractors to keep trees away from our power lines. These crews establish necessary line clearances while considering each tree’s species, size and natural shape.

We clear the trees along our lines on a regular maintenance cycle. The shape, size and growth rate of trees affect how often they need pruning. Generally, our crews prune to establish clearances that last at least three years and to avoid problems from snow overloading branches.

Our contractors use a procedure called directional, or natural, pruning. Directional pruning allows us to train the tree to grow away from power lines by removing only the branches that might contact the lines. By selectively pruning the tree’s branches instead of pruning the entire top, much of the tree’s natural form is retained. This practice is better for the health of the trees. It is also more cost effective because it doesn’t have to be done as frequently. The International Society of Arboriculture recommends directional pruning.

Removing Trees

Sometimes it’s necessary to remove a tree that has become a hazard to the public or the power system. If trees are classified as hazardous, Idaho Power will remove them and discuss replacement options with the property owner. Customers can plant new trees in the same spots only if they select low-growing, or Class I, trees. Class I trees grow to a maximum height of 25 feet.

Wood larger than four inches in diameter will be cut into manageable sizes for the property owner and left behind. Small pieces of wood and branches are chipped at the job site and hauled away or left behind at the owner’s request.

Related Information

Los árboles y las ramas que tienen contacto con las líneas eléctricas pueden causar cortes y peligros. Idaho Power poda árboles para mantenerlos alejados de nuestras líneas eléctricas, mejorando la seguridad y confiabilidad de la energía que suministramos.

Precauciones de Seguridad

Nunca intente podar un árbol cerca de nuestras líneas usted mismo. Si tiene un árbol cerca de una de nuestras líneas que cree que necesita ser podado o eliminado, o si nota que un árbol interfiere con las líneas eléctricas, contáctenos en línea o llame al 208-388-2323 o al 1-800-488-6151.

¿Sabía usted?

Colocar material, incluidos letreros y plantas, a los postes de energía es peligroso e ilegal (Código de Idaho 18-7029 y 18-7031; Código de Oregon 164-365). Estos materiales nos dificultan el acceso a postes y líneas eléctricas si hay un problema, y pueden interferir con el servicio de energía.

Despeje de Líneas 101

Idaho Power ocupa a contratistas calificados de despeje de líneas para mantener los árboles alejados de nuestras líneas eléctricas. Estas cuadrillas de técnicos establecen los espacios de línea necesarios mientras consideran la especie, el tamaño y la forma natural de cada árbol.

Despejamos los árboles a lo largo de nuestras líneas en un ciclo de mantenimiento regular. La forma, el tamaño y la tasa de crecimiento de los árboles afectan la frecuencia con la que necesitan ser podadas. En general, nuestras cuadrillas de técnicos podan para crear un espacio que dure al menos tres años y para evitar problemas de sobrecarga de nieve en las ramas en invierno.

Nuestros contratistas utilizan un procedimiento llamado poda direccional o natural. La poda direccional nos permite entrenar al árbol para que crezca lejos de las líneas eléctricas eliminando solo las ramas que podrían entrar en contacto con las líneas. Al podar selectivamente las ramas del árbol en lugar de podar toda la parte superior, se conserva gran parte de la forma natural del árbol. Eta práctica es mejor para la salud de los árboles. También es más rentable porque no tiene que hacerse con tanta frecuencia. La Sociedad Internacional de Arboricultura recomienda la poda direccional.

Eliminación de árboles

A veces es necesario eliminar un árbol que se ha convertido en un peligro para el público o el sistema energético. Si los árboles se clasifican como peligrosos, Idaho Power los eliminará y conversará con el propietario de la propiedad sobre las opciones de reemplazo. Los clientes pueden plantar un nuevo árbol en el mismo lugar solo si seleccionan árboles de crecimiento bajo o Clase I. Los árboles de Clase I crecen hasta una altura máxima de 25 pies.

La madera de más de cuatro pulgadas de diámetro se cortará en tamaños manejables para el propietario de la propiedad y se dejará atrás. Pequeños trozos de madera y ramas se trituran en el sitio de trabajo y se retiran o se dejan en el sitio a petición del propietario.

Información relacionada

For assistance with a PDF on this page or to request a PDF in an alternate format, please contact Customer Service at 208-388-2323 or 1-800-488-6151

Tree Maintenance

Tree maintenance keeps you safe and our power reliable.

In Oregon, we love our trees. Trees connect us to the natural world in urbans settings in ways few other things can, but downed trees can interfere with the reliability of our system and the safety of our community. Luckily. there are things that we — and you — can do to minimize this risk.

Tree Planting Guide

You can help prevent tree-related outages and reduce fire risk, and reduce maintenance hassles, by following the “right tree, right place” guidelines when selecting and planting trees, and by properly caring for your trees.

Managing trees near power lines

Trees grow slowly but they still need regular attention, especially in urban settings. PGE’s tree-trimming program is staffed with arborists and forestry experts who work tirelessly to keep you safe and reduce the chance of power outages.

Free wood chips

Our crews generate a lot of tree chips each year. We want to recycle all of them as efficiently as possible. That’s why we offer free wood chips in neighborhoods where we’re actively working!

What are those PGE tree crews doing in my neighborhood?

PGE often works with local tree contractors to assist us in our on-going tree trimming efforts. Our contract tree crews will visit your area every two to three years to inspect and prune trees along power line rights of way. We follow precise standards and practices in maintaining trees. Our experienced contract crews are directed by PGE foresters who have extensive education and training in both urban forestry and electrical safety. The Oregon Public Utility Commission regulations require us to do this work, because trees cause the majority of power outages in our area during storms. Pruning helps prevent outages and downed lines and maintain a high level of safety and reliability.

Which trees will PGE prune?

As we rotate through our service territory, our foresters examine trees for trouble spots. We look for branches that are close to power lines as well as branches that could fall during a storm and hit a line. We also search for diseased or dying trees.

Our crews will work on any trees determined to be a possible threat to power lines. Usually, these are trees that are planted directly below the lines in a parking strip and have grown too tall. But we sometimes will prune the branches from a tree outside this right-of-way tree if it is getting too close to the power line. The general rule is 10 feet of clearance.

How we prune

Our top priorities are to ensure safe, reliable power while also guarding the health of the tree. That’s why we won’t just arbitrarily cut a tree.

If, for example, the branches of a large elm or oak completely surround the power lines, we often prune out a u-section in the middle of the tree to provide plenty of clearance for the lines. This is much healthier for a tree than reducing its entire tree canopy.

How our crews are trained

Our tree crews are highly trained and must meet a stringent qualification process. They undergo a two-year apprenticeship during which they study tree biology and tree pathology, as well as how to work safely around power lines. Each year they safely prune thousands of trees.

Tree work schedules and notification

We’ll send you a letter when we’re planning to work in your neighborhood. Or, you can email us if you would like to know when we’re planning on working in your area.

tree, maintenance, power, line

Trimming trees near PGE power lines?

Call before you trim

Trimming trees, especially near power lines, can be dangerous work. This is especially true if you’re working near high-voltage lines. Call the PGE Tree Hotline at 800-544-1794 before you start work so that we can help you do it safely.

Stay safe! Remember these tree safety tips

Call before you dig. Dial 811 to have underground utilities marked. Call at least two business days prior to digging.

Call the PGE Tree Hotline at 503-736-5460 for advice or assistance before working on trees near power lines.

Tree planting and pruning

Beautiful and essential, trees make our neighborhoods more livable, our homes more energy efficient and our lives more vibrant and healthy.

Trees can also interfere with power lines, causing outages or creating other hazards. Through our award-winning vegetation management program, our professional arborists and crews help ensure electric safety and service reliability.

Small Trees for Small Places booklet

Learn what types of trees to plant near power lines.

About tree planting and pruning

How much do we prune?

Pruning clearances depend on tree species and growth patterns and the voltage of nearby power lines. Around distribution lines, which are typically found in neighborhoods, we provide at least 10-14 feet of clearance. Here are some shapes you may expect from properly pruned trees:

Tips for planting

To reduce the need for future pruning, it’s best to choose an appropriate tree for the space:

  • Low-growing trees (under 25 feet when mature) may be planted near overhead power lines.
  • Trees that grow taller than 25 feet should be planted at least 25 feet away from lines.
  • Trees that grow taller than 35 feet should be planted 50 feet away from overhead lines.
  • Trees and shrubs should be planted at least 10 feet away from ground-mounted transformers.

For your safety, please call 811 at least 48 hours before you plant to have underground utilities located.

To help save on energy costs, keep these tips in mind when planting:

  • Plant deciduous trees facing southeast and southwest for summer shade and winter sun.
  • Shrubs and small trees can be placed to shade air conditioners and heat pumps. Be careful not to block air flow, and consider ways to keep units free of leaves and needles.


How do your crews prune trees in neighborhoods?

We hire professional arborists to maintain a safe corridor around power lines. Our arborists and members of our tree pruning crews are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. They use natural pruning methods to maintain the health of the trees. The tree’s species, structure and the strength of wood are all considered when trees are pruned.

In addition to pruning, trees not intentionally planted as part of the landscape that measure less than six inches in diameter at 4.5 feet high will be removed and treated with herbicide.

If you’d like a tree pruned or removed for landscaping purposes, you’ll need to hire a private tree removal contractor to perform the work. If necessary, we can disconnect a service line for their workers’ safety.

Do you remove trees? If so, under what circumstances?

Sometimes the best solution to tree and power line conflicts is tree removal. We work with neighborhoods to remove problem trees, particularly in cases where they require repeated pruning. Tree removal is especially important where pruning alone cannot achieve safe clearance from power lines.

We seek the property owner’s written permission prior to tree removal. Coupons are also provided to help landowner’s buy low-growing replacement trees. These coupons are redeemable at local nurseries.

In the cases where sites are not suitable for pruning, we use mowers to remove the trees. Mowing sites often have dense populations of trees with straight trunks, such as pines or other conifers, which cannot be pruned to grow around power lines. This also helps reduce fire risk and clears the view for motorists.

How are trees cleared around high-voltage lines?

Trees typically must be removed around high-voltage transmission lines to protect the safety and reliability of electric service. Trees that grow too close to high-voltage power lines create hazardous conditions that can cause fires, endanger homes, interrupt electric service and contribute to a failure of the power grid.

The figure below shows the areas around the power lines and towers that should be kept clear. We work to keep the wire zone clear of trees and fast-growing vegetation. Utility-friendly trees are acceptable in the border zone. Any imminently hazardous trees in any zone will be removed for your safety and the integrity of our system.

Line clearing work is done by manual hand crew or by machine, based on the terrain.

Tree Trimming

Austin Energy takes our responsibility to deliver safe and reliable energy to our customers seriously. Expert tree trimming and vegetation management help make that possible.

Weather and vegetation cause more than one in three outages in our area.

  • During windy and stormy weather, swaying and broken tree limbs can rub against wires or bring down power lines.
  • In extreme cold, ice can add heavy weight and bring wires in contact with trees which may also lead to down power lines.
  • All of this can cause service fluctuations, widespread outages, hazardous conditions and fires.

Trees that grow too closely to power lines also pose an unnecessary risk to customers who depend on uninterrupted power for life support.

  • Increase the likelihood of fires from arcing electricity.
  • May cause electrical shock, serious injuries or fatalities to anyone who comes into close contact with an energized tree.
  • The National Electrical Safety Code requires Austin Energy to keep branches clear of power lines. And, we want to do our part to keep the community safe and protect our customers from power line hazards.

Benefits of Proper Tree Trimming

Managing trees and other vegetation near energized power lines maintains public safety. Proper vegetation management also:

  • Improves electric reliability by preventing some of the most common causes of outages.
  • Prevents damage to electrical infrastructure.
  • Provides utility crews safe access to equipment for repairs, which allows for quicker power restoration.
  • Protects and promotes the health of your trees.
  • Supports the City of Austin’s and the Austin Fire Department’s Firewise Program and enhances public safety awareness to minimize tree/wire conflicts to reduce fire risk.

When Trees Are Not Properly Maintained

  • Improper vegetation management — trees that have not been adequately trimmed and other vegetation that encroaches on power lines — is responsible for many outages.
  • Some of these outages require lengthy restoration times, as they require extensive trimming and multiple crews to repair power line damage.
  • Improper vegetation management can also be responsible for voltage fluctuations or “momentary” outages, as branches can scrape across lines even on “blue sky” days.

Storm Response and Debris Removal

During widespread storm events, power restoration is our priority. Branches can break off or sag and damage power lines — especially during storms with heavy winds, hail, sleet, and ice.

Often, our crews must trim damaged tree limbs before safely repairing the electric system.

Austin Energy will not remove debris or brush that results from power restoration. Check the Austin Resource Recovery residential guidelines and schedule for curbside brush collection.

Trimming Cycles and Practices

In 2019, Austin Energy increased our tree trimming clearances to increase reliability and safety and to keep our customers and communities safe. These clearances help us adapt to and address the increasing threat of wildfire and extreme weather.

These tree trimming clearances mean trees will be trimmed to keep limbs clear of the power lines for seven years. However, some fast-growing species may require trimming during the mid-point of cycles to maintain proper clearances from energized lines.

These trimming cycles are ideal to protect the health of your trees, ensure public safety and electric reliability, and assist with reducing the significant expense of tree trimming.

tree, maintenance, power, line

Austin Energy’s trimming cycle requires work planning along more than 2,400 miles of power lines. Each year, hundreds of miles of Austin Energy power lines are scheduled for tree trimming or tree removal on 9,000 to 12,000 properties a year.

Austin Energy’s Forestry Division uses three contractors to help with tree trimming across the service area. The three contractors are: Asplundh, Davey Tree, and Wright.

Factors We Consider When Trimming Trees:

  • Tree species
  • Time of year
  • Oak wilt and bird habitats — We make every effort to avoid trimming red oak and live oak trees between February and June when oak wilt is more likely to spread. To protect bird habitat areas, when possible, we avoid trimming from March to September (applies to undeveloped areas west of MoPac).
  • Circuit, line fuses, and customer ticket requests — We trim trees along a circuit from beginning to end on maintenance schedules. We trim trees along a line fuse section or area identified in a ticket request. If a portion of the circuit or line fuse is not trim and a tree limb falls on the line, the entire area may experience a power outage.

For Information

  • Please visit our Tree Trimming FAQs to find answers to commonly raised questions about our tree trimming program.
  • If you need more information, please call Customer Care at 512-494-9400 or email the Austin Energy Forestry Division.

Trees and Power Lines in Portland, OR: What You Need to Know

At first glance, trees may seem entirely safe. Indeed, trees often symbolize stability in ancient myths. However, trees can be unsafe in certain circumstances. As our regular readers will recognize by now, poorly cared-for trees are more likely to fall in a storm. Power lines also complicate the safety of trees. In this post, we discuss what homeowners should know about trees that are placed near power lines and who is responsible for trimming trees near power lines. We also talk about safety issues that can occur and the safety precautions that homeowners should consider. We include tips for considering the location of power lines when planting. Finally, we touch on what to do in tree/power line emergency situations.

Safety Tips for Trees and Power Lines in Portland, OR

  • Wondering who is responsible for trimming trees on power lines? Utility companies are responsible for trimming and maintaining trees near power lines. They will prune around the power lines on a regular schedule. It’s also worth noting who is responsible for trimming trees near cable lines and that it is also the responsibility of the utility company. Never attempt to trim a tree that has grown into power lines. In some cases, the utility company may call for the removal of a tree that has grown too close to power lines. If you’re concerned that a tree is growing too close to a power line, call your utility company as well as our Portland-certified arborists. We would be happy to schedule an advisory visit.
  • Power lines are not insulated; if you touch one it could kill you. This also includes branches that are touching a power line. When in doubt, call the electric company first. Do not touch bare wires or branches that are against the bare wire. Prevent children from climbing trees that are near power lines. Also, observe the 10-foot rule—don’t attempt to work on any tree that comes within 10 feet of a power line. Instead, call us for Portland tree services. Our arborists are thoroughly informed on how to safely prune around power lines.
  • Never put a ladder against a power line.
  • Any time you prune, be sure to observe basic safety guidelines. Make sure that you are working on a steady, level surface, including any ladders. Don’t try to remove large branches while working from a ladder. Instead, break up the branch into smaller chunks. If you have trouble working from a short ladder, call a pro instead. Don’t over-extend; don’t work past your comfortable height.
  • Wear adequate safety protection while conducting Portland tree pruning. You should always wear eye protection. Ear protection is also needed when working with power.
  • Dead or diseased limbs can be removed immediately. Don’t worry about the season. (But do mind the safety cautions listed above.)
  • Keep the equipment sharp, practice making good cuts (not cutting into the branch collar), and don’t worry about sealing your pruning cuts. If pruning is done properly, trees are very good at sealing over their own injuries. Learn how to identify the branch collar, and where to make a proper cut, such as above the branch collar, but without leaving a stub. Be careful not to injure or cut through the branch collar. If you still have questions about tree trimming, Portland Fruit Tree Project offers affordable tree care workshops (which Urban Forest Pros hosts from time to time).

Considerations for Trees and Power Lines in Portland’s Urban Landscape

If you’re thinking of planting a tree one thing to consider is to never plant a tree under a high-voltage power line. Research how large your tree will be at maturity prior to tree planting. Portland’s long growing season will allow trees to thrive, so it’s important to choose the right species for the available space. Ensure that any species you plant will not grow too large and that they will not grow into nearby power lines. Here’s a short list of trees that under normal conditions are short enough to be planted under distribution power lines: Trident, Amur, Paperbark, and Tartian Maples; Flowering Dogwood, Hawthorne, Bristlecone Pine, Honeysuckle, Sumac, Juniper, Rose Acacia.

The following plants grow too tall and should never be planted under power lines: Silver or Norway Maple, Oak, Colorado Blue Spruce, White Spruce, and most pines.

Emergency Tree Trimming Around Power Lines Near You in Portland, OR

When it comes to trees near power lines, one common question is, “who is responsible for tree limbs on power lines?” In most cases, the responsibility for tree limbs on power lines falls on the utility company to trim trees and remove any branches that pose a risk to the power lines. The phone number for Portland General Electric (PGE) is 503-228-6322 and for Pacific Power and Light (PPL) it is 1-888-221-7070. However, if you notice a tree or branch leaning on a high-voltage line, it’s crucial to call the power company immediately at the numbers provided above. For life-threatening emergencies, it’s best to call 911.

In the event of a storm or severe weather, it’s also important to take appropriate measures if a tree falls onto a wire. If you notice a fallen tree or branch on a wire, it’s important to take appropriate measures immediately to minimize potential costs associated with damages. This includes calling your electric company as well as a qualified arborist. Here at the nearby Urban Forest Pro, we have extensive experience in safely removing fallen branches and trees from a variety of precarious situations. You can trust us to remove hazardous trees safely while minimizing the damage to your property.

If you have concerns about trees near power lines, don’t hesitate to reach out to your utility company or a qualified arborist for guidance and support. Together, we can ensure a safe and healthy environment for all. Put our number in your phone so you can get a hold of us quickly following emergencies.

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Our Services

  • Tree Pruning
  • Tree Removal
  • Tree Cabling
  • Tree Stump Grinding Portland
  • Tree Planting
  • Certified Arborist Reports
  • Organic Pest Control
  • Fine Pruning
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  • Tree Hazard Correction
  • Height Reduction Pruning
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