Tree clearing for power line and gas line maintenance program
An important part of maintaining our system is our tree clearing for power line and gas line maintenance program. It helps prevent safety hazards and outages from trees and other vegetation coming into contact with our natural gas and electricity equipment. Throughout the year, particularly in spring, summer and fall, our crews trim trees and other vegetation, and occasionally cut down hazardous trees that pose a risk.
Potential hazards of trees near utility lines
- Trees falling on or touching power lines: trees that touch or fall on power lines cause outages in our electricity service area, totaling more than 100,000 hours of outage time every year.
- Trees or shrubs coming into contact with natural gas lines: trees obstruct visibility of natural gas lines from the air and interfere with patrols. They can damage the natural gas line's protective coating, may act as a conduit for lighting and can disrupt the natural gas pipeline if the tree is uprooted. Trees planted overtop of natural gas lines also prevent access in the event that we need to repair or inspect the pipeline.
- Trees or shrubs growing near padmounted transformers: roots can damage the underground cables of padmounted transformers and cause a safety hazard, and branches can prevent technicians from accessing the equipment safely.
Sometimes trees and shrubs need to be trimmed, other times they need to be cut down. This work is done to industry and regulatory standards and it is paid for through electricity and natural gas rates that our customers pay.
You can prevent safety hazards, and prevent having your trees cut down, by planting safely near utility lines.
Our tree and brush clearing program
We remove or trim trees that are too close to transmission and distribution power lines, but property owners are responsible for maintaining trees near secondary power lines serving their premises.
Only certified professionals or qualified individuals should trim or cut down trees near power lines
You should never attempt to prune trees near power lines yourself. Trimming trees around power lines should only be attempted by trained and qualified professionals. Serious injuries and even fatalities have occurred when untrained individuals attempt to do this work themselves. When having your trees pruned or removed, you can arrange to have your power service temporarily disconnected or wires temporarily removed by calling us at 1-866-436-7847. In most cases, there is no charge for this service.
Clearing near natural gas lines
We remove trees within rights of way of our high pressure gas lines. Trimming trees around gas lines should only be attempted by trained and qualified professionals. Serious injuries and even fatalities can occur when untrained individuals attempt to do this work themselves.
How we determine if a tree needs trimming or if it needs to be cut down
If a tree’s branches are within the clearance limits of our distribution power lines, our contractors will trim them and ensure the tree doesn’t need to be trimmed again for at least five years.
When trees within limits of our equipment are dead, in decline, or have structural weakness or uprooting issues, they are identified as hazard trees and removed.
Notifying property owners prior to trimming or removing trees and bushes
Our contractors are obligated to get this important work done in the most efficient, cost-effective way to keep the community safe while managing potential rate impacts for all customers. In some cases we attempt to notify customers for hazard tree removals
but if we are unable to reach the homeowner we still need to cut the hazardous tree. We do not provide notification for routine trimming or vegetation maintenance activities.
Wood debris from trees our contractors have cut down
The wood and debris belong to the property owner and is left on the property. Our customers pay for the cost of cutting down hazardous trees to keep our system safe through the rates they pay, however removal and disposal of wood debris is not included.
Many property owners wish to use the wood from their felled tree.
Reporting hazardous trees
If you live in FortisBC's electricity service area and see potentially hazardous tree or shrub, please call us at 1-866-436-7847. We will assess the situation and schedule the work according to the level of risk. We schedule patrols of our distribution and transmission power lines to develop a plan for trimming trees away from power lines and for hazard tree removals.
If a tree has fallen on a power line, stay at least 10 metres away and call the number above, or call 911 immediately.
If you suspect tree or shrubs could be interfering with a natural gas line, please call us at 1-888-224-2710.