Since the advent of the utility pole, trees and lines have been in conflict. Safe, reliable power delivery requires a certain amount of line clearance, called ‘right-of-ways’ to ensure an uninterrupted flow of electrons. Vegetation, trees in particular, have a tendency to grow up in these clearings under the lines, causing damaging and often dangerous interference.
The Effects of Repeated Pruning
Minimizing this interference by continually pruning the branches has been the standard operation for nearly 100 years. This practice can be significantly intrusive to the trees health. Drastic pruning not only cuts off a major portion of the tree’s food-making potential, it also severely depletes the tree’s stored reserves. It is an open invitation for the tree’s slow starvation.
While pruning is necessary for utility line clearance; pruning often stimulates the regrowth of dense, upright branches just below the pruning cut. These new branches are not as structurally sound.
- They are more susceptible to diseases and herbivorous insects such as aphids and caterpillars.
- Regrowth is generally more rapid and vigorous; growing back to its original height faster and denser than a tree in its natural state.
- They are weakly attached and more prone to failure or breakage.
Pruning near Power Lines is Dangerous
Pruning trees is, in general, a dangerous proposition and pruning trees near power lines only magnifies that risk. According to the Tree Care Industry Association, electrocution is consistently one of the Top 2 killers of tree workers every year. Simply put, working with trees near utility lines can be deadly.
Trees Cause Power Outages
Deteriorating branch stubs, along with these new branches, make trees highly vulnerable to wind and ice damage. This makes line clearance pruning necessary on a frequent basis to ensure reliable service. Despite the best effort of the line clearance workers and the system foresters, trees cause power outages every year. The miles of power lines and rapid growth rate of trees make 100% prevention impossible. According to the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, Trees account for 19% of all power outages per year.
Right Tree Right Place
While the current practice of selecting and planting tree species that are compatible with power lines (right tree/right place) is a best practice recommendation, this is not always a reality. Our innovative approach is designed to manage trees growing under power lines.
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