Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel

Tree Trimming FAQs

Why do electric companies trim trees in my backyard?
Electric utilities are required to maintain the reliability and safety of their system, including those lines that are on consumers' property. This is partly done by keeping tree branches away from their power lines.

Do electric companies trim the trees themselves?
Ohio electric companies often hire professional tree trimmers to help remove branches or trees that may interfere with the power lines.

Do tree trimmers use any standards to protect the trees?
When trimming, the electric companies or their contractors attempt to cut trees in ways that reduce stress and ensure the smallest possibility of disease for the tree. Typically, tree trimmers use standards by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and the International Society of Arboriculture.

How much trimming will be done? Are there guidelines?
Trimming will usually involve clearing branches to allow at least 10 feet of space surrounding a power line. These are the federal health and safety guidelines that help protect tree trimmers that are not specifically qualified to work around power lines specified in the utility vegetation management plan.

How will I know if tree trimming is planned for my street?
Customers may be notified of when tree trimming will occur in their area. The notices, usually hung on the door or mailed, include a telephone number for customers to call with their questions. Depending on the company, the notice can be anywhere from two or more days prior to the trimming. Notice does not have to be given and this procedure does not apply to emergency trimming performed in an effort to restore service after a storm.

What can I do to avoid having the electric company trim my trees?
The following are steps you can take to help avoid the electric company trimming trees in your yard.

  • When planting trees in your yard, select a location away from power lines.
  • Check with a nursery about the correct types of trees for planting in the space you have available.
  • Trim all trees and bushes that are under and near power lines each year to keep them from growing toward the lines.

What if I have concerns about tree trimming that will be performed in my area?
Customers should call the tree trimming service prior to the trimming to get information about the work to be done and express their concerns. If the customer is not satisfied with the information received from the tree trimmer they should contact the electric utility directly.

What can I do to prepare for tree trimming?
Customers should be certain that they completely understand the work to be done on their property. It is a good idea for the customer to take pictures of the trees prior to trimming and get in writing, in as much detail as possible, the trimming that will be done. Most tree trimmers will try to work with customers regarding their concerns with trimming when possible.

Are utility representatives or their tree trimmers allowed to enter my property?
Yes, utility representatives or contractors may enter property to trim any branches that are touching or are close to power lines. It is necessary to enter private property so that the reliability of the power system is maintained and outages are avoided. Utility companies have this right through an "easement." An easement is essentially permission for the utility to maintain its power lines on a customer's property. Easements are filed with the County Recorder's office and copies are typically kept on file at the utility.

Additional Information

For additional information, visit your electric company's website or call toll free at one of the numbers below. Consumers may find additional information on tree trimming at the following locations.
  • The International Society of Arboriculture is a worldwide professional organization dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation for trees and to promoting research, technology and the professional practice of arboriculture. It also provides information about avoiding problems with utility lines.
  • Tree Care Industry Association develops safety and education programs, standards of tree care practice, and management information for arboriculture firms around the world. The association provides continuing education, training, conferences and publications to promote the safe and appropriate practice of tree care.

 

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