Frequently Asked Questions
VerdeCare professionals are often contracted to your local electric utility to assess trees and other vegetation growing near powerlines. Below are Frequently Asked Questions about how our service works and its benefit to you and your tree. We have also included some general questions related to maintaining the trees on your property. Please contact us if your question is not here or you would like to speak with us.
Q. What is the purpose of assessing vegetation near power lines?
A. By assessing vegetation near power lines, we can help prevent tree conflicts with power lines before they occur. Power lines that are too close to trees can cause problems in three ways:
Safety — Trees and tree limbs can knock down power lines or ignite fires. In addition, electrical shock is possible by simply touching a tree in contact with high voltage wires. Power lines are just as dangerous if handled by someone climbing in a tree as they would be if handled by someone standing on the ground. Trees and tree limbs can compromise the safety of utility workers due to visibility and other obstructions.
Outages — Tree limbs contacting power lines are one of the most common causes of power outages. Trees can affect service reliability at both the location where a tree comes in contact with a line or at other distant locations on the electric grid. If you have concerns about trees or vines growing near power lines, contact your utility.
Voltage Loss —Trees touching power lines drain electricity off the electrical system. The resulting voltage loss can affect customers anywhere along the electrical circuit. Low voltage can damage motor-driven appliances (refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.) and sensitive electronics.
Q. How often must vegetation near power lines be assessed?
A. Each utility is unique with respect to its construction, regional conditions, and the types of trees growing near its system. A utility may need to assess vegetation multiple times in a single year or once every few years. Technology, such as growth regulators, may also be employed to extend the cycle of work activities.
Q. Why do some trees near power lines look lopsided?
A. Industry best practice is to prune only the portion of the tree that may interfere with safe/reliable power. Although it would seem better to “shape” a tree after clearing for power lines, removing healthy branches for aesthetic purposes causes additional stress. Leaving the healthy branches growing away from power lines provides the tree a place to focus new growth in a safe direction.
Q. How will I know if my trees will need work?
A. Our foresters will make direct contact when on your property. Door hangers will be left behind to notify you that a tree(s) on your property will need work. We may also reach out to you in person or with a phone call. One of our goals is to ensure customers understand any work that may be planned for their trees.
Q. Can I trim my own trees?
A. Only trained professionals should complete tree pruning around power lines. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals attempt tree work near power lines. Please contact us, your local utility, or an ISA certified arborist to evaluate the trees and vegetation around power lines. State and federal safety regulations require any person working on a tree that grows within 10 feet of a high-voltage electrical line to have proper training and communicate with the utility before commencing work.
Q. Can I hire an arborist to prune the trees from the lines?
A. Line clearance work requires additional insurance and training requirements than other tree care. Any arborist who works on a tree within 10 feet of power lines is considered to be working “on the electric system” and must have permission from the utility. Be aware that if you employ a contractor to work on your trees and they become injured or cause a fault to the utility system, you may be held liable. If you are planning to have work done on a tree closer than 10 feet to the power lines, please contact your utility so they can advise you on how to safely proceed or arrange to make the tree “safe” for your contractor.
Q. Is there a cost associated with utility vegetation work?
A. There is no direct charge to the consumer. Utility vegetation work is included in your electricity rates. All customers are essentially paying for the maintenance and upkeep of the lines, poles, and other equipment that deliver power to their homes and businesses.
Q. Where can I get more information about selecting good trees?
A. The right tree planted in the right place can provide not only beauty but energy savings for your home. It is essential that new trees be planted away from power lines to prevent the future need for trimming, keep rates low and ensure safe, reliable power. The tree’s location is an important consideration when choosing a new tree to plant. The Arbor Day Foundation has some excellent tips on their website.
Q. How can I find an Arborist to help me with my trees?
A. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) promotes the professional practice of arboriculture through research, technology, and education and fosters a greater worldwide awareness of the benefits of trees. The ISA has created the international industry standard for the certification of arborists. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) is a trade association that develops safety and education programs, standards of tree care practice, and management information for tree and landscape firms worldwide. The TCIA has an accreditation program for tree care companies. Both the ISA and TCIA offer online resources to help you find a tree care professional:
Q. Where else can I get more information about caring for my trees?
A. Taking care of nature is always beneficial, and the trees on your property are no exception. In addition to increasing your property value, well-placed trees sequester carbon, filter environmental pollutants, reduce stormwater run-off, and provide shade that can reduce cooling costs. Trees Are Good is an educational website managed by the ISA and publishes a free Tree Owner’s Manual.