Trimming trees near power lines

Trees that are growing near power lines are a safety hazard and may cause a power outage. SRP has an obligation to clear these trees and also help customers to safely trim trees on their property that are near power lines.

When SRP trims trees it is solely to prevent unsafe conditions and maintain reliable electric service. We trim around lines that form the SRP electric delivery system. We hire trained, professional tree workers who are qualified to work safely near energized power lines.

Your trees and overhead power lines

You should never attempt to trim trees near power lines or hire a tree-trimming contractor to work within 10 feet of an energized power lines. Arizona law places restrictions on this work to protect public safety.

On your property

If you want to trim trees near overhead lines that run between a power pole and your home or other structure on your property:

  • Call us at (602) 236-8888 to arrange for a temporary disconnection of service at least a day in advance of when the tree-trimming work is scheduled.
  • Be prepared to provide a daytime phone number where you can easily be reached.
  • Arrange to be home, you will need to be present when we arrive to disconnect service.
  • Keep in mind that tree trimming related disconnection requests may need to be rescheduled when emergency situations occur or previously scheduled service orders must be completed.
  • Once your tree is trimmed, call us back at (602) 236-8888 to have your power service reconnected. SRP crews cannot wait on-site while you trim your tree.

If you want SRP to trim a tree that runs into power lines between two poles:

  • Call us at (602) 236-8888 and we will evaluate it for trimming and/or removal.

In your neighborhood

SRP actively trims trees on an ongoing basis to ensure uninterrupted service and the safety of both the community and SRP lineman. If you notice a tree that appears to be growing into the power line, call us at (602) 236-8888 and we will evaluate it for trimming and/or removal.

Planting power line friendly trees

Did you know that you can plant power line friendly trees? First, find out how the tree will look five, 10 or even 50 years into the future. Knowing what height a tree will reach at maturity will help you determine if it is power line friendly.

Next, use the guidelines below to determine if the tree is power line friendly.

Chart showing how far away from power lines trees should be planted, x-axis shows distances trees should be planted from lines and y-axis illustrates height for both power lines and trees. For power lines that are around 30 feet tall, following guidelines are set: do not plan any trees or oleanders within 25 feet of the power lines, 25 feet from the power lines smaller trees can be planted with caution. Any trees within that zone should be small and grow to less than 25 feet in height/spread. Medium trees, any types that have a 25 - 40 foot height/spread, can be planted 25 - 40 feet from power lines and larger trees, those that reach 40 foot height/spread, always plant at least 60 feet from power lines.

Remember, before you plant a tree, make sure you know where existing underground lines are located by submitting a ticket with Arizona 811.

Tree ideas

The following trees are recommended as they ideal for the desert climate and rarely reach more than 20 feet high unless heavily irrigated.

When does SRP trim trees?

Specific rules and regulations apply to tree trimming around power lines. There are federal, state and corporate statutes and standards that define SRP’s responsibility to trim and remove trees, when necessary, restrict tree trimming activities and outline safe tree trimming practices.

There are two reasons SRP trims trees:

1. To prevent unsafe conditions: SRP is committed to protecting the safety of the public, customers and employees. Trees conduct electricity and create potential safety hazards when branches grow too close to power lines. To prevent unsafe conditions for the community and our line crews, SRP periodically trims trees to maintain proper clearance for overhead power lines.

2. To maintain reliable service: Our primary job at SRP is to provide reliable electric service to homes and businesses throughout our service territory. When tree branches come in contact with power lines, they can cause power outages or fires. That happens most often in windy and stormy weather, especially in the summer months during monsoon season. Since its inception, our tree-trimming program has drastically reduced the number and duration of outages caused by trees.

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How we trim trees

Illustration of trees before and after pruning. A tree growing directly into the lines will be cut in a V shape to allow the lines to pass through. A tree that is to the side of the lines will have the side of the tree cut-off, referred to as side prucning. L pruning means an L shaped piece of tree is removed.SRP will trim or remove trees and vegetation that are growing into or too close to an overhead power line, if they are between two power poles. Please note that SRP will not clear vegetation around power lines that run from power poles to homes, businesses or street lights.

This pruning service is provided at no cost to the property owner. As consideration for this service, once the trees or brush are pruned, the debris will become the property of SRP.

Currently, SRP crews trim more than 50,000 trees every year. SRP uses a technique called "directional trimming" to train trees to grow away from overhead lines. This technique, recommended as a best management practice by the International Society of Arboriculture , is healthier for trees than "topping" or "rounding" tree growth, limits the need for additional future trimming, and keeps branches a safe distance from power lines.

The amount of trimming varies according to a number of factors, including tree growth rates, location, previous trimming practices and watering method (e.g., irrigation).

Although our approach may not improve tree appearance, we believe it is a reasonable and responsible way to keep people and property safe and electric service reliable.

Removal and recycling

In addition to safety and reliability, SRP is committed to looking after the environment of our region. SRP currently offers near-to-the-ground removal free-of-charge in situations where tree growth is too rapid for periodic trimming. As consideration for this removal service, once the tree is removed, the debris will become the property of SRP.

We recycle most of the tree materials we trim or remove. Clippings are chipped and used for mulch.

This recycling effort significantly decreases the amount of waste placed into area landfills and SRP's disposal costs. We also conduct our line-clearing activities in a way that protects wildlife, including endangered species such as the spotted owl.

Please note: after removal of the tree debris, stump removal and grinding is the responsibility of the property owner. SRP may provide growth inhibitor to tree stumps.

Palm tree removal

When palm trees grow within 10 feet of high-voltage lines, they can create hazards and cause power outages in your community during storms and wind events.

While SRP can prune most trees to keep growth away from power lines, pruning is not possible with palms once they are within 10 feet of high-voltage lines. Unlike other trees, palms have a single growing point. Pruning too close to the single growing point or the heart of the palm can kill the palm.

Therefore, when palm trees grow too close to high-voltage lines, we need to remove them altogether.

Where we are trimming now

The map below shows the current areas for tree trimming in orange. Double-click on any of the orange highlighted sections to zoom into the tree-trimming area. This map does not reflect tree-trimming activities around high-voltage power lines.

 

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