AVOIDING TREE AND UTILITY CONFLICT
Trees can add value to your home, help cool your home and neighborhood, break the cold winds to lower your heating costs, and provide food for wildlife. There are several key factors to consider when selecting species and location for your trees. Mature growth, such as height, canopy spread, and root spread, as well as utilities – overhead electric lines and underground electric and gas services – are some of the ones we want to bring to your attention here.
Trees that come in contact with overhead utility lines are bound to cause an interruption in service for you and/or your neighbors, especially in storm conditions. Because these trees must be pruned periodically to keep them clear from the lines, they may become unnatural in appearance, may be susceptible disease and insects, and have a shorter life span. Also, costly utility repairs may present a burden to you if you dig without considering underground lines. More importantly, damage to utility lines can harm the environment, cause serious personal injury, and disrupt service to an entire neighborhood. So be sure to Call Before You Dig – It’s The Law.
Please visit the Trees Are Good website and their Avoiding Tree & Utility Conflicts page for additional information. By choosing wisely, we all can enjoy trouble-free pleasure for the life of the tree.
TREE TRIMMING FAQ's
Q -Why does Westfield Gas & Electric prune trees?
A - Westfield Gas & Electric prunes trees to ensure safe and reliable electric service. The majority of trees trimmed along power lines can be safely maintained through directional trimming. Directional trimming allows for trees to be trimmed in a natural growth pattern.
Q -What method of tree-pruning does Westfield Gas & Electric use?
A - Westfield Gas & Electric uses natural target trimming, better known as directional trimming, to maintain clearances between trees and high-voltage power lines. Directional trimming practices can include V-shaped trimming of trees around power lines, and the cutting of tree limbs where they would naturally shed. This type of trimming can increase the protection of trees from attacks from diseases and insects.
Q -How should I go about safely trimming the tree branches around my power lines?
A - You should never get near an electric line or use any kind of equipment close to a line. If tree branches have grown into lines in an alley, street or backyard utility easement (this includes all major lines except the service lines that go over your property from the pole to the electric meter), you should call Westfield Gas & Electric so they can schedule an inspection.
If the branches have grown too close or into the service line running across your property from the pole to the meter, you should call a qualified tree trimmer or arborist to trim the tree limbs. For safety reasons if you will be doing the trimming yourself, you may want to call your competitive retailer and arrange to have the service drop disconnected while the pruning is underway. There could be a cost involved.
You can avoid the expense and inconvenience of calling a qualified tree trimmer by never planting trees that could grow tall near or under the service line.
Q -How can residents help in ensuring that trees are not trimmed?
A - Residents can help Westfield Gas & Electric minimize tree-related outages and ensure the beauty of their landscapes through thoughtful planting of new trees. Trees planted along the property's border should either be low growing shrubs or tall and narrow trees, planted at least as far away from the lines as the trees' natural spread from power lines. Spreading trees, such as elms and oaks, are common outage-causing culprits and should be planted at least 50 feet away from power lines.
Before planting trees on your property, the location of utility lines should be considered. Are lines overhead or underground? Never dig near underground utility lines. Future access to these underground lines should be considered when planting.
Q -What safety rules should I follow if I do my own landscaping and gardening?
A - If overhead electric lines serve your home, never get too close to the lines, and don’t take tools or other objects near the lines. If you have underground electric service, never dig until you know where the lines are buried. To have underground lines located and marked at no charge, call 811 or 888-DIG-SAFE.
Q - Do Westfield Gas & Electric linemen do tree trimming?
A - Only during emergency situations would a lineman do any trimming. Westfield Gas & Electric hires qualified line clearance tree companies to do their maintenance pruning.
Q -What will my trees look like when you trim them?
A - That depends on a lot of different factors: the proximity of your tree to our lines, the growth habit of the tree, the size of the limbs that need to be removed, the availability of suitable lateral limbs to prune to, and other trimming that has been done to the tree (such as thinning, stubbing or trimming for other utilities etc.). Just because you saw a tree down the street that had a "V" shape does not mean your tree will have a "V" shape. Very often trees that are directly under the lines and are taller than the lines will have a V or Y shape. While this may not be the most aesthetically pleasing form, it is an arborlogically correct method that will help promote the long-term health of the trees.
Q -My trees are not even touching any electrical wires, why do you want to trim them?
A - Your trees may not be actually touching the wires, at this time, but they could be close enough to sway into the lines in high winds. Also all the trees on this feeder should be on the same approximate maintenance schedule. This improves reliability to everyone on the circuit and reduces the number of trips we have to make to maintain that reliability. You can imagine if each of the 1,000 or so consumers on a given circuit had their trees on a different schedule. Pruning limbs before they cause a problem is ideal. By doing so, we can direct the growth away from the lines.
Q -Why do you need to cut so much?
A - Our standards are based on several factors: the minimum safe working distance for a tree worker, how much trees sway in high winds, the ability of limbs to break and fall on lines and the varying growth and regrowth rates of different species of trees. We can never trim enough to prevent all tree outages. We attempt to get enough clearance to withstand normal seasonal weather conditions to keep us from having to come back frequently.
Westfield Gas & Electric's goal is to deliver safe and reliable electric service to you and your neighbors. In order to accomplish this, we need to maintain a safe distance between your trees and our wires.