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Who Is Responsible for Trimming Trees Near Power Lines?

Trees and power lines coming in contact is dangerous. It’s one of the top causes of tree worker deaths and property fires. 

Therefore, as a good citizen, you’ll want to call attention to a tree growing into power lines. You may even want to trim the trees yourself or hire a tree service company for the job. But is it your responsibility? Who is responsible for trimming trees near power lines?

Top Tier Trees, the premier choice for expert tree pruning in Marietta, covers the details in this post.

Why Allowing Trees To Grow Into Power Lines Is Dangerous

Ignoring trees growing into power lines is dangerous for two main reasons.

Risk of Electric Shock or Electrocution

Tree branches growing into electrical lines puts everyone who comes in contact with the tree in danger. Primary power lines can pack up to 39,000 volts. Secondary power lines can pack up to 480 volts, while service lines (which lead into people’s homes) can pack up to 240 volts. 

The voltage coursing through the service lines is the weakest, but even then, it’s more than enough to kill anyone who makes contact with an energized tree. Now, imagine how dangerous it is to allow tree branches to grow into high-voltage secondary and primary lines.

Coming into contact with an energized tree can cause electric shock or electrocution. People who survive electric shock from a tree may present symptoms like:

  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • Seizures
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Severe burns
  • Unconsciousness

Call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. Even when the person doesn’t exhibit any symptoms, a medical examination is still crucial to rule out any neurological or internal damage.

In the case of electrocution, don’t attempt to move the body, especially if it’s still in contact with the energized tree.

High Risk of Combustion

Tree limbs in contact with power lines can heat up after being energized for too long, and may catch fire. The fire can spread quickly if the tree has many dead branches or if the fire occurred during a period of drought. The fire can spread into other canopies and surrounding properties.

You should be even more careful if the affected tree is an Eucalyptus tree. The leaves, bark, and sap are highly flammable and may cause the tree to explode, damaging properties and causing injuries to anyone nearby.

If you notice a tree on fire and it’s in contact with a power line, call 911. Do not attempt to extinguish the fire with your garden hose or any other water source. The water might serve as a conductor, causing you severe injury. It also increases the risk of electrocution.

Who Should Trim the Tree Branches?

Who is responsible for trimming trees near power lines? The simple answer is, “It depends on the position of the tree.”

Trees on Public Property

It’s the responsibility of the utility providers to trim tree branches on public property growing into power lines. They are under a legal obligation to keep these trees short and clear of the utility lines. If you spot any such trees, you can call the city’s Department of Parks. 

They will dispatch a certified arborist to trim the tree or remove it completely while adhering to the OSHA guidelines.

Trees on Private Property

For trees on private property, the situation is different. If the tree is on your property, it’s your responsibility to trim the branches growing into the power lines. However, you may need to secure a permit if the tree has a DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) of six inches or more.

However, it’s possible to get the permit waived if you can prove that the tree is a danger to structures and people around. So, you’ll need to first contact the city’s Arborist Division to find out if you need a permit or not. Next, hire a professional tree removal company for the trimming. Finally, you’ll need to contact the power providers (Georgia Power) to request service interruption around the area during the trimming project.

How Do Tree Care Companies Remove Trees Near Power Lines?

Tree care companies can prune trees growing into power lines by using a bucket truck or a crane or by climbing the tree. The approach they will choose depends on factors such as:

  • The location of the tree
  • The placement of the power lines (those touching the tree and those in the surrounding area)
  • The type of power lines near the tree
  • The condition of the tree

Experienced tree pruning and removal companies will carefully evaluate the problem and come up with the ideal plan to safely trim branches without endangering lives and property within the area.

What About DIY Trimming of Branches Near Power Lines?

DIY tree trimming in this scenario is always dangerous and never a good idea. Some homeowners believe they can safely trim the tree since it’s not yet directly touching the power line. However, many electrocutions have occurred in scenarios like this.

Electricity can arc, which means it can jump through the air from the utility pole to reach a conductor. Therefore, the arcing can occur between the power line and the nearest branch even when they aren’t touching directly, putting you at risk.

Additionally, there’s always a high risk of loss of balance and falling. Experienced tree service professionals gain access to the risky branches using a crane or a bucket truck. 

You’ll likely either use a ladder or climb the tree. With such a setup, even a minor shock can throw you off balance, leading to serious injuries or death.

Get Professional Help With a Tree Growing Into Power Lines

Are you still wondering, “Who is responsible for trimming trees near power lines?” Do you need professional help with trimming an energized and dangerous tree touching primary, secondary, or service power lines? Top Tier Trees can help.

Call Top Tier Trees in Marietta, GA, today to schedule a consultation. Learn more about the signs of bad pruning, protect your property, and more.

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