Tree Trimming

 

Tree trimming practices: Preventing power outages

Trees are valuable assets in commercial, private, and public landscapes. On the other hand, trees pose considerable challenges when it comes to keeping the lights on, and system reliability.

Most people have grown accustomed to reliable, uninterrupted electric, water, and sewer service. One of the major disruptions of service is when a tree makes contact with an electric line or its roots penetrate a water line.

When trees contact live wires they become conductors of electricity and create dangerous situations for anyone coming into contact with energized limbs. The annual cost of labor and materials for tree pruning and removal is significant and ultimately is a cost shared by all New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) customers. Tree Trimming work is necessary to protect the public and NBU employees who service the lines, as well as to ensure safe, reliable electrical service.

New Braunfels Utilities strives to maintain continuous electrical service and public safety by striking a balance between nature's beauty and operational requirements.

 

General Questions

 

Answers



What do I need to do before planting new trees?

Before you plant, be aware of the location of all utility lines, including those underground. To locate underground lines such as electric, cable, telephone, and gas lines, “Call Before You Dig” at 811 nationwide. Call at least two business days before you plan to dig.



Know the growth potential of your trees and place them an appropriate distance from power distribution lines.




Planting the right tree in the right place, away from power lines, will help replenish local urban forests with quality trees and reduce NBU’s need to trim or remove trees.

 
How can I avoid having trees trimmed or removed because of power lines?
The best way to avoid conflicts is to never plant trees underneath power lines. Trees/vegetation that interfere with maintenance, construction, or reliability of electric lines are subject to trimming or removal.

If you choose to plant trees near your home, plant the right tree in the right place. Select trees that have a short height at maturity and a crown spread that will not interfere with nearby power lines. Proper selection and placement of trees can eliminate potential safety hazards, reduce expenses, improve service reliability, and enhance landscape appearance.
 
If I plant a tree too close to power lines, will it be cut down?
The vast majority of trees NBU maintains are trimmed to ensure there is adequate clearance to uninterrupted service. Trees affecting power lines maybe removed when a hazard cannot be eliminated. NBU takes into account our community's imminent safety, concern and any other vulnerabilities.



 
How are trees trimmed?
Unfortunately, people often find this necessary pruning to be aesthetically unacceptable. Due to the inherent danger of electric lines, pruning within easement areas should only be carried out by professionals trained in line clearance pruning; never by homeowners. New Braunfels Utilities tree trimming professionals follow best management practices for utility pruning of trees. These practices were developed from the residential and commercial tree care industry, utilities, the municipal and federal sectors, the landscape and nursery industries, and other interested organizations, and are documented in the American National Standards Institute publication ANSI A300, part 1. New Braunfels Utilities trims-eight feet from the overhead primary system.

New Braunfels Utilities tree trimming standards include natural lateral or directional trimming methods that promote growth of the tree away from the electrical facilities. These trimming methods ideally allow a tree to retain as much of its natural form as possible while requiring less trimming in the future.

Reference the New Braunfels City Ordinances for additional information:
144-5.3-1(6)(vii): Utilities.
130-11: Right of Entry.
114-3: Maintenance of sidewalks, driveways, and trees by property owners or occupants.
 
Will the trees ever regain a natural appearance?
Trees will continue to grow, however, they will not look the same as before they were trimmed. Because trees and power lines are not compatible, NBU will continue to trim as necessary in the future to maintain clearance for service reliability. Allowing the trees to grow naturally could create problems with the delivery of electrical service. New Braunfels Utilities does use natural trimming methods to minimize aesthetic impact.
 


Will the trees die?

Trimming is done to cause the least possible stress to the tree. Proper trimming methods are used to minimize the impact on a tree’s health, structure, and appearance. For example, when limbs are removed, they are cut at the branch collar, which reduces the likelihood of disease or decay entering the tree, and excessive re-sprouting.


 
Can I request trimming if my trees are close to power lines?
Yes, if you feel your trees are too close to any electrical infrastructure, we encourage you to call Electric Operations at 830.608.8873 to request tree trimming. A representative from NBU will inspect the tree to determine if it requires trimming immediately.
 
What if I want a tree cut down instead of trimmed?
New Braunfels Utilities may cut down trees that are close to power lines based on certain factors, such as the types of equipment affected, the type of tree, its growth rate, its appearance after normal line clearance maintenance, size, health, ongoing line clearance requirements, etc. The Utility Forester or Supervisor will determine whether or not a tree should be removed. If removal is necessary or desired for the health of NBU’s electric system, it will be at no charge to the customer. If a tree is removed by NBU, there will be a 4-6 foot stump left to be removed by the customer, unless prior arrangements have been made. If the removed tree is a palm tree, the customer is responsible for disposal, unless prior arrangements have been made.
 
When can I expect the debris to be cleaned up from my property?
Under normal daily operations, tree trimming debris should be removed from your property on the same day the work is performed. Occasionally, it may be left overnight and removed the next morning, only after the contractor has properly notified the property owner and/or received his/her consent.

Property owners are responsible for clearing debris resulting from emergency tree trimming. Service restoration caused by fallen/broken trees, after inclement weather, or in the immediate aftermath of a major storm or other natural disaster is your responsibility.
 
How much does tree trimming cost?
New Braunfels Utilities does not charge for typical tree trimming service performed on its existing electrical facilities; we provide this service to help ensure reliable electric service. If an NBU contractor requests payment for this service, you should notify NBU immediately. (Note: NBU may charge individuals or developers for tree clearing to help facilitate new service construction in certain situations, which would be agreed upon prior to construction.)
 
Do you trim trees away from communication lines?
No. NBU does not trim or remove trees away from telephone, DSL, or cable television wires.
 


Can I plant trees near underground transformer boxes?

Avoid planting vegetation around electric transformer boxes used with underground power lines. Allow at least 10 feet of access in front of the transformer and three (3) feet around the sides and back.


 
Does NBU trim vines on utility poles or guy wires?
Vines on poles and guy wires will be cut at or close to ground level and left to deteriorate. Vines that are cut may be treated with herbicides to prevent re-growth.
 
Can I trim my trees around the power lines in my yard?
No! Serious injury or death can occur when untrained homeowners or workers attempt to trim trees around energized power lines. Unless you coordinate with NBU to do the work safely, only professionals who are authorized by NBU are legally allowed to trim or remove trees next to energized power lines. These professionals have been properly trained and equipped to work safely around power lines.


References include Center Point Energy and Bryan Texas Utilities.