Tree Trimming & Right of Way FAQs

How can trees affect my power?

Trees can affect power in a number of different ways. They can undermine the reliability of your service at the precise location where a tree may contact a line, at other locations on that line or at other locations on the interconnected electric grid. Fallen trees can interrupt power to many customers. In a worst case scenario, a tree can tear down the entire line and break the poles that hold the line in place. It's not necessary for a tree to tear down a line to disrupt power. A tree or even a limb can fall across two of the wires on the pole and create a path for the electricity to flow. When this happens, protective equipment de-energizes the line. Electrical blinks and flickers may be experienced if intermittent, short duration contacts are made with the line. The clinks and flickers may be caused by high growing bushes or vines as well as trees. If you have concerns about trees or vines growing near power lines, please contact AUB. A customer service representative will be happy to assist you.


Are there safety issues surrounding trees and power lines?

Serious injuries or death can occur if energized lines are touched. Trees and tree limbs can tear down power lines. When trees grow close to and into the lines, there is a possibility of someone climbing a tree and making contact with an energized line. The lines are just as dangerous if touched by someone climbing in a tree as they would be if touched by someone standing on the ground.


My trees haven't caused any power outages. Why are you cutting or pruning them?

To provide safe and reliable service, AUB must remove brush and trim trees along the power lines. These practices and techniques are approved by nationally recognized arborists. We have an obligation to provide safe, reliable electricity to all of our customers. Our ability to provide reliable service is influenced by the maintenance of trees and brush around power lines.


The development of an Integrated Vegetation Management Program allows us to evaluate power line areas and determine the best methods for maintaining reliable service from the poles and lines. The objective of the program is to maintain the lines in a manner that is consistent with good arboricultural practices before the trees and brush are close enough to cause outages.


Are trees trimmed or removed for the installation of new electric lines?

We evaluate the best routes with the least impact to the environment. Typically, in this part of the country, any route that is chosen involves a conflict with trees. We prune and cut down the necessary trees and vegetation in order to properly install poles and lines.


Will I be notified before a tree crew comes to cut trees in my yard / neighborhood?

Door hangers containing information identifying the work to be performed in the area are left on each customer's door at least three days before the crews arrive for scheduled pruning. An AUB representative will also make every effort to meet with customers face-to-face to discuss specifically what will be done. This process applies to the routine maintenance work that is pre-planned and scheduled. In emergency situations or in follow-ups related to outages that cannot be planned ahead of time, we are unable to give prior notification.


Does AUB trim or remove trees other than those near power lines?

We are only involved with the maintenance and removal of trees and other vegetation that might endanger the safe and reliable operation of poles and lines for the delivery of electricity.


When is the best time to prune trees?

Most professionals recommend tree pruning in the dormant season (during the winter time when the trees are not growing). Most professionals also advise that if you are not severely pruning a tree, it can be pruned any time of year. Certified arborists recommend that it is more important to make the proper cuts and follow sound arboricultural practices than to limit pruning to just a certain time of year.


How does AUB decide when to prune or is this just a random selection?

We have a routine maintenance program for trees and brush growth around power lines. In cases where tree conditions are particularly bad, one line may be maintained more often than another. If a particular line is not currently scheduled for maintenance, but begins to show an unacceptable number of tree related outages, it might be maintained sooner than originally anticipated.


How often does AUB trim trees in my area?

We employ a systematic approach to maintaining more than 400 miles of overhead distribution lines in Athens and the surrounding community. The condition of vegetation (trees and brush) around the power lines dictates our need to manage the growth. Depending on the conditions on a given line, our maintenance schedule may vary from three to five years.


How much will be cut from my trees?

Each tree is different and must be considered individually. Trees with trunks close to the power lines require much heavier pruning than trees located farther from the line. Some techniques that are appropriate on hardwood trees cannot be used on some soft-wooded species.


When pruning operations are performed, our trimming experts make every attempt to trim sufficient clearance so that the tree will remain safe until we return on our next routine maintenance cycle.


Does AUB "round-over" and/or "shape" trees?

We do not "round" trees over because it's not good for the health of your trees. We subscribe to a method of pruning called lateral and directional pruning. These methods are endorsed by many in the tree-care industry as being the best pruning technique for the health of the tree.


The basis for lateral pruning is that each limb removed from a tree is removed either where it joins another limb or at the trunk. This procedure is different from "rounding" trees over in which limbs are not cut at arbitrary points normally leaving unhealthy "stub" cuts. Directional pruning involves cutting a limb back to another limb (or lateral) so that future growth of the resulting limb is directed away from the power lines. With directional pruning techniques, tree growth causes minimal impact to public safety and electrical service.


If one of your local tree companies has Certified Arborists on staff, ask them about healthy pruning techniques for trees.


When is it necessary to remove trees instead of pruning them away from power lines?

Normally, when trees are dead or unhealthy, we will discuss with you the possibility of removing the tree. A tree may have a decayed portion of the trunk; the entire tree may be dead or in the process of dying which might cause it to break or fall. It may have soil that is severely eroded away from the root system such that it becomes necessary to take the tree down.


Are the tree trimmers trained and professional?

It is important that each tree professional working for AUB be trained in proper techniques and safety. Extensive training is provided by the contractors. We also have a certified arborist on our staff who oversees the safe use of our program.


Who trims tree limbs that interfere with the light levels or pattern of light from street lights?

Over the course of time, tree growth may begin to interfere with your desired light pattern. It's your responsibility to maintain (or have maintained) the growth of any trees close to the light.


Is there a charge for trimming trees on my property?

Tree trimming is a part of our responsibility to ensure safe, reliable electric service to you. The cost of managing the natural growth around power lines is a part of AUB's rate structure and does not cost you additional payments.


Can I trim trees myself?

Pruning trees around power lines should only be attempted by trained professionals. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals do this work without the assistance of qualified professionals. Please call us for an evaluation of the trees and vegetation around power lines prior to any removals.


Does AUB provide help to a property owner to trim or remove trees away from power lines?

Pruning vegetation around power lines is an extremely hazardous job. AUB discourages you from undertaking any pruning activities close to electrical equipment. If you are concerned about the growth of trees or other vegetation on or near the service lines around your house, we encourage you to contact AUB and a representative will be glad to assess the situation.


Can a licensed commercial tree trimming firm get help from AUB in trimming or removing trees near power lines?

We do not encourage anyone not trained to remove trees adjacent to distribution power lines to do tree work around energized lines. We will send a representative to make evaluations on a case-by-case basis. As stated in Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) law, an untrained person should not work within ten feet of overhead energized conductors.


Is AUB responsible for clean-up after pruning trees?

The majority of our pruning and cutting occurs during routine line maintenance cycles. Our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush in landscaped settings. The larger pieces of wood are cut into manageable length for your use. In non-landscaped sites, pruned vegetation and wood is left in place. This material will bio-degrade into its natural components. When an "Act of God" (such as lightning, ice storms, high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes) cause trees or other vegetation to fall across power lines and thus create power outages, we cut the trees and brush so poles and lines can be replaced and re-energized. Disposal of any wood, limbs or debris resulting from this type of emergency operation is the responsibility of the property owner.