Why are Tree Trimming and Removal Necessary?
FortisBC understands how important trees can be to homeowners and to communities as they add to our landscape and to our quality of life in British Columbia.
FortisBC's ability to provide safe, reliable electrical service and to maintain and repair all the power lines that make up our distribution system is sometimes affected by the growth of trees. Trees can pose a danger if they fall on or touch power lines and consequently FortisBC maintains adequate clearance by removing, trimming or pruning trees that are too close to power lines.
Keep Safe Around Power Lines
When a tree or a large branch falls onto a power line, as sometimes happens during storms, it can tear down the entire line and break the poles that hold the line in place. A tree or even a branch that is merely in contact with the power line can cause a power outage or start a fire.
Touching a downed power line that is still energized can result in serious injury or even death. For your safety, you should stay at least 10 metres (30 feet) away from downed power lines. Make sure to watch out for conductive materials like fences and try to secure the area until FortisBC crews can get there.
Also keep in mind because trees are full of sap, they are good conductors of electricity. Children can be electrocuted if they climb or touch a tree limb that is too close to a power line.
Learn more about electrical safety.
Never Attempt to Prune Trees Yourself
Trimming trees around power lines should only be attempted by trained professionals. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals attempt to do this work themselves.
FortisBC is not responsible for the maintenance of trees or vegetation on the property of our customers affecting the secondary power lines. This is the responsibility of the home owner. FortisBC recommends that you hire a qualified contractor to do the work and contact us to temporarily disconnect your electrical service during this maintenance. If you notice a tree that is interfering with the power lines or need to schedule a date a time to have your power temporarily disconnected please call our Customer Contact Centre Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm at 1-866-436-7847.
How Much Will Be Cut to the Trees?
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. Our trimmers are trained in proper pruning techniques and do their best to redirect growth away from the distribution and transmission power lines while attempting to protect the health of the tree.
Trees with trunks in close proximity to power lines require much heavier pruning than trees which are located a greater distance from the line. Sometimes large growing trees close to power lines have to be pruned so severely that it becomes necessary to take the tree down.
How Can You Help?
Sometimes our crews must make the difficult choice to severely prune or even remove a tree. All too often, the tree may have needed less pruning or would not have had to be removed if it had only been planted a meter further away.
With proper planning, you can have a variety of beautiful trees without having to worry about them conflicting with power lines in the future. When planting trees remember the following:
- Visualize the tree at its full size height and width when preparing to plant.
- Avoid planting trees near a power line.
- Plant large growing trees in an area where they will maintain a safe distance from the power line when fully grown and be sure to allow for wind sway.
- Avoid planting trees near underground power lines. If there are underground power lines on your property, be sure to give FortisBC or
BC One Call a call before digging.