Tree Trimming

Tree trimming for Safety, Reliability and Tree Health

Trees are part of Florida’s natural beauty, but trees and other vegetation are also one of the leading causes of outages for utilities in the Southeast.

Maintaining trees and vegetation along distribution and transmission rights of way helps reduce outages and enhances safety for customers, as well as FPUA employees and contractors. FPUA maintains a rigorous inspection process that identifies vegetation encroachments and ensures vegetation-management activities follow required pruning and clearance specifications.

We regularly use tree-trimming contractors to conduct much of our vegetation management work. These contractors are held to the same stringent requirements for safety and quality that are observed by FPUA employees and crews. We discourage customers, property owners and untrained contractors from pruning trees and plants near power lines.

Customers who have questions or concerns about vegetation maintenance can contact a FPUA customer service representative by calling 466-1600. Our customer service representatives can provide general information on vegetation and right-of-way issues, or can connect customers to a right-of-way expert.

Safety

We balance our commitment to reliable service with the health of the trees we must trim near power lines. FPUA conducts vegetation management as part of our commitment to providing our customers with safe and reliable electric service. Trees in contact with electrical conductors are often problematic. Electrical outages, momentary interruptions, electrically induced fires, personal property damage, and even personal injury are potential outcomes. As with most utilities, trees are among the leading causes of power outages on the FPUA electric system. FPUA’s electric vegetation management program is designed to minimize tree conflicts while maximizing system reliability.

In addition to making tree safety around power lines a top priority, we encourage you to follow these guidelines:

  • Overhead/underground line clearance. Overhead power lines on or near your property can interact with trees, causing power surges and other potential risks. Underground cables can also come into contact with the root systems of trees. Don’t plant shrubs or flowers around electric transformers, which are located on the ground in a metal box on a concrete or plastic base.
  • Digging can be dangerous. Safety is the most important thing to remember when working with trees large and small. Be sure to call 811 before you dig on your property to plant or move a tree.
  • Watch your antenna. Install TV, satellite or radio antennas away from power lines – at least the height of the antenna plus an extra 10 feet.
  • Play it safe. Educate your children about electrical safety and make them aware of overhead power lines. If your kids plan to fly a kite, make sure they’re in an open field away from electrical lines. Wet and dirty kite strings can conduct electricity.

 

Pruning

Electric service for you home and community is important. So are your trees. When we trim trees growing too near or into power lines, we prioritize both. FPUA uses qualified professional tree trimming contractors to manage the vegetation around our electrical facilities. To accomplish this, we use two types of pruning:

  • Lateral Pruning: removal of tree limbs at natural detachment points to help facilitate healing around the pruning site.
  • Directional Pruning: the deliberate attempt to remove those limbs growing towards the conductors and to train the tree to grow away from electrical facilities.
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Cutting limbs to proper laterals helps minimize re-sprouting, which reduces the amount of re-growth into electrical facilities. Pruning to a proper lateral does not harm the tree’s natural defense systems. Instead, this helps protect the tree from decay.

Note: is not our primary intent to trim the whole tree or to trim for aesthetic purposes.

Importance of Routine Pruning

A tree that is not maintained on a routine cycle will assume its normal form, which may put it in danger of coming into contact with electrical infrastructure, resulting in the need to extensively prune or remove the tree.

Minimize the Number of Cuts

FPUA’s tree trimming crews work to minimize the number of pruning cuts to a tree in order to prevent serious injury to the tree. The intent with quality vegetation management is to remove whole branches that are growing toward utility facilities. When clearance distances are specified (for example, 10 feet) the cut should be made at the next suitable lateral of parent limb beyond the specified distance.

Directional Pruning

Directional pruning (also known as natural pruning) is most effective when tree characteristics such as size, shape and expected growth rate are taken into consideration. Proper directional pruning of trees growing directly beneath facilities or beside them helps direct future tree growth away from the facilities.

Removal of overhanging vegetation may or may not be necessary, depending on the type of utility facility, tree species and other factors. Overhang is never acceptable over high-priority facilities such as high-voltage electric transmission lines.

Palm Pruning

Many palm species grow large enough to affect utility facilities. Their large fronds sway in the wind and may break free, causing damage to equipment. Palms cannot be reduced in height or directionally pruned like other trees. The best solution for palms interfering with utility facilities is removal or relocation.

Planting

Whenever you plant trees, it’s important to consider where to plant them – and to make sure you’re planting the right trees. To realize the full benefits of trees takes a communitywide effort. That’s where you come in, and we can help.

Planting Responsibly Around Electrical Infrastructure

While we use pruning methods that prioritize the health of trees, you can do your part by planting trees and shrubs appropriate distances from power lines, transformers and other types of electrical equipment. Because city and county guidelines for planting vary, be sure to check those that apply to your community. To determine the location of FPUA electric and other underground utility service lines in Florida, call toll-free 811.

Better reliability through managed and well-placed vegetation means fewer power interruptions for you and your neighbors. More importantly, trees that touch power lines can create dangerous situations. In general, only licensed professionals should prune trees. That’s especially true with trees near electrical infrastructure. Our crews are just a phone call away – so let us know if you see trees growing into power lines.

Did you know that planting deciduous trees, which lose their leaves for part of the year, on the east and west sides of your home can cool it by up to 10 degrees in summer and warm it by 10 degrees in winter? Shading your air conditioning unit with trees can help it run more efficiently, reducing your electricity consumption by up to 10 percent. You can gain additional benefits by shading sidewalks, driveways and patios.

When Planting, Go Native – or At Least Florida-Friendly

It’s important for the sake of the trees you plant, as well as the environment, to plant native trees as much as possible and to avoid planting invasive species. Native plants are better suited to local growing conditions. Invasive species, on the other hand, can grow out of control and choke out beneficial species.

Florida-friendly plants are those that, while not native to the state, grow well in the appropriate regions and zones. With the right native and Florida-friendly vegetation, you not only have species more likely to thrive, but also plants and shrubs that need less water, fertilizer and overall care.

Problem Trees

The following non-native problem trees can cause conflicts when planted adjacent to or under overhead power lines. These trees may be prohibited in some municipalities. Any fast, tall-growing tree that could ultimately reach the power lines could cause a problem.

    • Australian Pine
    • Melaleuca
    • Brazilian Pepper
    • Tree Bamboo
    • Schefflera
    • Ficus
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Consult your local nursery or landscaper for more information.

Small, immature trees planted today can grow into problem trees in the future. Selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place around power lines can eliminate potential safety hazards and improve the reliability of your electric service. In addition, your tree can achieve its proper height and form. Use the information below as a guide when planning your landscape design.

Selecting Trees for Distribution Rights of Way

When selecting a tree or shrub to plant, it is just as important to consider what you plant as it is where you plant. The right tree or shrub, planted in the right place, can give you years of beauty and value without the potential dangers of getting too close to power lines.

To help you decide which tree or shrub is right for your yard, here are a few suggestions.

    • Small Trees
    • Medium Trees
    • Large Trees
    • Shrubs
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Small Trees

The following small-growing trees (no larger than 25 feet) are adaptable to the Carolinas and can be planted directly underneath power lines with a minimum of later pruning:

    • Crepe Myrtle
    • Flowering Crabapples
    • Dogwoods
    • Redbud
    • Saucer Magnolia
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Medium Trees

The following medium-sized trees (maturing to 25 to 40 feet) can be planted at least 20 feet from distribution power lines:

    • Flowering Yoshino Cherry
    • Littleleaf Linden
    • Bradford Callery Pear
    • American Hornbeam
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Large Trees

Be careful as you plan to visualize the tree at its full size. Large trees, such as oaks, often spread out considerably as they grow. Plant the saplings of large-growing species (maturing to 40 feet or more) at least 40 feet from distribution power lines to avoid future pruning problems:

    • Willow Oak
    • Red Oak
    • White Oak
    • Sugar Maple
    • Red Maple
    • Southern Magnolia
    • Gingko
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Shrubs

Selecting and positioning shrubs is not nearly as difficult as planning for trees. In most cases, shrubs will never grow to affect power lines.

However, we need to keep as much open space as possible around pad-mounted transformers (the rectangular green boxes located near property lines). That’s why we encourage you not to plant any type of vegetation other than grass within ten feet of the opening side of the box (where the padlock is located). This open space is needed so we can get inside to perform repairs and maintenance.