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The Need to Get Along


Message from BEC CEO, Bill Hetherington

Electric utility lines serve nearly every neighborhood in the United States, adding efficiency and luxury to every day of our lives. Similarly, trees enhance our neighborhoods and bring beauty to our surroundings. Trees improve our air and water. They shade our homes, screen undesirable views and help reduce noise along with many other ecosystem services.

We want both trees and power. However, trees and electric lines often share the same space, and this can create dangerous situations. For example, trees growing too close to overhead electrical lines create safety and reliability concerns that can lead to injuries or cause power outages. In fact, trees are the leading cause of outages for most utilities, especially during storms and high wind events. This is also the case here at BEC.

While the pruning or removal of interfering trees occasionally causes controversy, it is necessary for the delivery of affordable and reliable electric service. The cohabitation of trees and power lines can create a non-compliance issue with environmental and regulatory rules. In the United States, electric utilities are required to conform to regulations and standards that contain provisions for vegetation management, including having ample distance between trees and power lines. For the trees in our area, the safe distance is 10 feet.

For this reason, BEC has retained professional tree trimming contractors with certified arborists to ensure that appropriate pruning does not cause injury to any tree. All BEC-approved contractors must meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration qualifications, comply with all applicable regulations and take appropriate precautions.

Experience shows that when property owners understand utilities have the right to prune in established rights-of-way (ROWs) and easements and recognize where those zones exist, they develop better relationships with utilities. Utilities and their licensed tree trimming contractors often need access to privately owned property to perform necessary maintenance and to ensure safe and reliable delivery of electricity.

Utilities and trees can coexist with good communication and education and proper planning. The more we all know about vegetation management and the requirements facing utilities, the more likely it is that we can protect and properly maintain the trees in our communities.


Posted: 11/1/2021 1:37:03 PM
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