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Nearly one-third of the power outages that occur each year can be traced to tree interference. In severe storms, tree-related damage accounts for two-thirds of the power outages. We trim trees to ensure your safety and to maintain reliable electric service.
Trees that grow into power lines can cause problems three ways:
- Safety—A tree in direct contact with power lines puts constant stress on live power lines and can cause them to burn through and fall to the ground. If an adult or child climbing in a tree puts enough weight on a limb, it may also bring the limb into contact with a live wire.
- Voltage loss—Trees touching power lines actually drain electricity off the electrical system. The resulting voltage loss can affect customers all along the electrical circuit serving your neighborhood. Low voltage can damage motor-driven appliances (refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.) and sensitive electronics in your home. Neighboring businesses, schools and medical facilities can be affected the same way.
- Storm-related outages—Snow, ice or wind storms often damage trees. Branches, limbs and even entire trees may fall on power lines, tearing down energized lines, transformers and poles. The resulting power outages can rob you of heat, lights, communication and refrigeration.
If a tree poses a hazard to safety and property, or if trimming will undermine the health of the tree, we remove it. We try to contact you in person or in writing before removing a tree from your property. In the case of curbside, or city-owned, trees, we contact your local government. Customers sometimes ask us to remove a tree rather than trim it. We evaluate these requests on a case-by-case basis.
We need to maintain more than 3.5 million trees in our service territory, so we must trim on a regular schedule. To accomplish this, we contract with more than 600 professional tree trimmers who work year-round. When we determine our trimming schedule, we’re guided by our primary goals to provide safe, reliable electric service as cost-effectively as possible. Electrical system maintenance costs, including tree trimming, are recovered in our rates. We believe that a four- to five-year trim cycle provides a good balance, allowing us to provide you with safe, dependable electrical service while keeping costs within reason.
Each year, a number of amateur tree trimmers are seriously injured or killed because they, their tools or the tree limbs they are in contact with touched a power line. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation by working around pole-to-pole power lines that carry high-voltage electricity. State and federal safety regulations require any person working within 10 feet of a high-voltage electrical line to have proper training and certification.
If you notice a broken tree limb or other immediate or potential hazard on a pole-to-pole power line, please report it immediately by calling our Customer Service Line at 800.477.4747. Our line clearance staff will investigate and determine what should be done.
Maintaining clearance around the service drop, the lines that run from the pole to a home, is the property owner’s responsibility. Although the voltage through a service drop is much lower than that of pole-to-pole power lines, we recommend that you hire a professional tree service to do this trimming.
We place our lines underground in new residential developments, but there are many obstacles to placing lines underground in established neighborhoods. Existing trees and their root systems would be impacted, undermining the health and stability of those trees. Considerable expense, time and disruption would be involved in trenching through existing roads and landscaping.
Maintenance of underground lines is more difficult. Because the lines are hidden from view, diagnosing and locating problems on the system becomes more challenging. The cost of such a major overhaul to the utility infrastructure would be passed, in part, to you in the form of higher taxes and electricity prices.
There are two key considerations:
- Young trees mature to different heights, depending on their species. Remember to look up when considering a site. Think about the mature height and spread of the tree in relation to utility lines. Trees planted directly under or within 20 feet of pole-to-pole power lines should have a mature height of less than 25 feet. Trees that will mature to 25-45 feet tall can be planted 20-50 feet away, but trees more than 45 feet tall at maturity should be planted more than 50 feet away from power lines.
- If you have underground utilities or a transformer cabinet in your yard, you need to plan for clearances around these as well. Call MISS DIG at 811, three workdays in advance to have underground utility locations staked before you begin any excavation work. When considering landscaping around underground transformer cabinets, keep in mind that this equipment requires periodic maintenance. Make sure your landscaping or fencing does not obstruct access. An 8-foot clearance is required from the front doors of the cabinet, and a 2-foot clearance is needed at the back and sides.