Electrical Line Clearance – Why It’s Important

Pruning trees to clear electrical lines is a vital and necessary practice to reduce tree-related electrical. Each year the City of Bowling Green Electrical Division hires a contractor, that along with the help of the City’s tree crew, prune and remove trees to clear the electric lines. The lines are on a 4-year pruning cycle and each year work occurs at over 300 address. Prior to crews arriving to perform work the lines are inspected, trees to be pruned or removed are noted for the crews, and the resident is notified of the upcoming work.

When the crews arrive, work is performed according to current industry work standards and OSHA and industry safety standards. They use directional or lateral pruning to direct the tree’s growth away from the lines while not impeding the tree’s natural defenses for minimizing decay. Branches growing away from the lines are not pruned. Research shows this approach is better than older practices such as rounding over or topping trees. These older techniques resulted in decay and regrowth that ultimately shorten the tree’s life and require more frequent and drastic pruning.

When trees in the City’s Right of Way are removed, replacement trees are selected that are appropriate for growing under the powerlines. These trees are less than 25 feet at maturity so they require little if any pruning to keep the power lines clear. Prior to planting, property owners ideally should consider the proximity to powerlines when evaluating the planting site and selecting tree species.  The following tree species and cultivars are trees to consider when planting near power lines: amur maackia, corneliancherry dogwood, crabapple, flowering cherry, hawthorn, Japanese tree lilac, maple, redbud, serviceberry, Vanessa parrotia, Wireless zelkova, and certain shorter maples (amur, paperbark, three-flower).