Am I Responsible for Trimming Trees Near Electrical Lines?

There’s no denying that a mature tree, completely with lush foliage, can be a thing of beauty, but when there’s power lines nearby, the site can spark a sense of horror. Overgrown trees and power lines can interrupt the supply of electricity, internet, and cable, and more importantly, can pose a serious public safety risk.

Trees and Power Lines Don’t Mix

Electricity, phone, cable, and internet have certainly made life a whole lot easier. In fact, in the modern era, for most people, not having power can be quite detrimental. If you’ve ever lost your power – even if for just a short while – you know exactly how frustrating it can be. In Palm Beach, especially, where the heat and humidity soar, having reliable access to power to run your air conditioning is an absolute must; not only for your comfort, but for your safety.

Yes, there’s no doubt that you’re thankful for all of the modern conveniences that power provides. There’s just one downside, however; the power lines. In most locations in Southern Florida, power lines are above the ground. They’re suspended from poles, which are strategically positioned, and usually, those above the ground power lines are located on either side of a street along the front or the back of homes. So, what’s the downside of above the ground power lines? Well, it’s the trees.

As the trees on your property grow, the limbs and branches will also grow, and eventually, they can run into the lines that not only supply power to your house, but that supply power to your entire neighborhood. It goes without saying that tree limbs and branches don’t mix. All it takes is a slight breeze and trees that are close to reaching or that have extended beyond a power line to cause a major catastrophe. The lines could be loosened or completely torn down, and your home – and your neighbor’s homes – could be without power. Even worse, if the lines are active, there’s a chance that they could spark a fire or injure anyone that gets in its path. In other words, the last thing you want is to have the trees on your property interact with the power lines that run in front of or behind your home.

What’s the best way to prevent serious problems from occurring? Why, trimming back the trees, of course. But who is responsible for trimming the trees: you, your utility company, or your municipality? Read on to learn some helpful information so that you know what to expect and how to protect yourself and your entire neighborhood from a catastrophic event.

How Far Should Trees Be From a Power Line?

Before we dive into discussing who is responsible for trimming trees that are near overhead power lines, it’s first important to know how far trees should be from a power line. That depends on several factors, including the type of tree, the height the tree will reach once it reaches full maturity, where you reside, and your utility provider’s guideline. With that said, the best way to determine how far away the trees on your property need to be, contact your utility company and/or your town. On average, however, tree branches need to be at least a few feet away from overhead power lines.

Who’s Responsible: You, Your Utility Company, Or Your Municipality?

So, who is responsible for trimming the trees that are growing on your property once they start reaching the overhead power lines? Just like the distance the tree limbs and branches need to be from overhead power lines depends on where you live and your utility company, so, too, does the matter of who is responsible for trimming the trees.

In the Palm Beach area of South Florida, most utility companies are required to trim limbs and branches. The power company will monitor flora growth and once it reaches a certain point, they will make the arrangements to trim them back so that they are set back a safe distance from the overhead power lines. Again, while it depends on the specific details that pertain to your location, generally speaking, the utility provider will take care of the matter.

If you want to be certain about where the responsibility lies, we can help!

How Does It Work?

If your utility provider is responsible for cutting back the trees, they will continuously monitor tree growth near the lines that the power and maintain. Once the trees are a certain distance away, they will make arrangements to cut the limbs and branches back. Usually, the amount that will be cut back is more than the distance is considered a safe distance in order to allow for future growth. For example, if tree limbs and branches need to be a distance of 6 feet away from the power lines, the utility company may cut the trees back 10 feet.

When it’s time for the trees to be trimmed, you’ll likely receive a notice from your utility provider. They’ll notify you a week or so in advance, and will let you know if any arrangements need to be made ahead of time, such as making sure that vehicles aren’t parked in the area. Make sure that you make the arrangements that are necessary on the day that your utility company is scheduled to trim the trees back.

During the service, the utility provider will send a professional tree trimming company to trim the trees back. Do note, however, that while you might not be responsible for trimming the trees back, you might have to clean up anything that falls to the ground. As such, do be sure that you are prepared to clean up any debris.

What if You Are Responsible for Trimming the Trees?

Though typically, in Southern Florida, the utility companies will cut back trees when they grow within a certain distance to overhead power lines, this isn’t always the case. In some locations, and with some utility providers, the customers are responsible for the tree trimming.

As mentioned above, reach out to your utility provider to find out who is responsible for trimming your trees. If it’s you, then find out how far back the trees need to be and how you should determine whether or not it’s time to make arrangements for a tree trimming. When it comes to actually cutting back the branches and limbs, you could attempt to do the job yourself; however, hiring a professional is a much better approach. Not only will having a professional tree trimming service help you avoid potential injuries or damaging the power lines, but hiring a pro will also ensure that the trees are trimmed back the appropriate distance.

Make Arrangements Ahead of Time

If it is you, the property owner, who is responsible for trimming back the trees so that they don’t make contact with overhead power lines, make sure that you are diligent. Keep tabs on the position of the limbs and branches of the trees that grow near the overhead power lines that run in front of or along the back of your property. If you suspect that they are reaching an unsafe distance, contact a professional tree trimming company and make arrangements to have the limbs and branches cut back. If you wait too long, there’s a chance that the trees will extend too close to the power lines or that they could extend past them. When that happens, even the slightest breeze and the branches and limbs could take out the line, knocking out power, and causing a potentially serious public safety threat.

Professional Tree Trimming: What to Expect and How to Prepare

If you’ve never had your trees trimmed before, you may be wondering what to expect and how to prepare. As long as you hire a reputable company, there really isn’t too much you need to do on your end. Prior to the company arriving, make sure that you clear out the area where they will be working. For example, if you park cars on the street in front of your house underneath the overhead power lines, you’re going to want to make arrangements to move them to another location. Doing so will not only ensure that the workers will be able to easily access your tree limbs and branches, but that your vehicles won’t be damaged. Additionally, if there is anything else on your property that could potentially be in the way of the work crew or that could become damaged – outdoor furniture, for example – you’ll want to clear those items out of the way, too.

Other than making sure that the area is clear of obstructions so that the tree trimming crew can easily access the location, there’s really nothing else that you’ll need to do to prepare. As far as what to expect, upon arriving at your location, the crew will notify you to let you know that they will begin working. Do note that you should expect to hear some degree of noise and that you’re going to want to make sure that small children and pets are attended. Small children and animals tend to be curious, and the last thing you want is to have a little one or a family pet wander out and inure themselves or someone else.

Once the job is done, the crew will clean up any debris and will review the work that they completed. And that’s it! Your trees, power lines, and anyone within the vicinity will be protected from a potentially catastrophic event.

We’ve been trimming trees for years. Let us help you manage yours!