Can Power Company Cut Trees on my Property | Expert Guide

Can a power company cut trees on your property? Well, it depends on your country’s laws, but in most cases, they can cut trees that touch the power lines for safety reasons. Trees that touch power lines are hazardous and can cause fire due to electric conductivity. People around these trees, especially the house owners, might be at high risk.

So for your safety and to limit tree-related power outages, power companies are allowed to do so within a 5-day notice period. Let’s discuss some things you might need to know about power companies and tree trimming.

Why do Power Companies Cut Trees?

Can Power Company Cut Trees on my Property

Power companies must preserve trees close to power lines for security and safety reasons. Additionally, they must submit yearly reports to the IURC (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission) addressing vegetation management. It is dangerous for trees to grow too close to power lines.

Trees are good conductors of electricity. Hence their branches touching the wires can cause electricity disruption resulting in fire. People standing close to these trees can have severe injuries or even death as electricity can transmit from the tree to them.

For these reasons, power companies have to cut trees if they touch the power lines to ensure the safety and security of the public.

Check your contract with the power company.

Firstly check your contract with the power company. You have to see the company’s policies and how many easement rights they have. An easement is an agreement between the owner and the company that allows the company to access or use a certain amount of your property for specific reasons.

So if you have an easement with the power company, you have to see how much they can access your property or, more specifically, how many feet or inches they can access or cut your trees within that range. 

Try to negotiate with the power company.

If you want to stop the power company from cutting your trees or if you don’t like the way they cut your trees, try to negotiate with them before going to court.

For example, if you have a 5-inch easement but are accessing your property more than that, then you can show your company and easement policy and tell them that they don’t have a right to cut beyond the specified area in the policy. So try to talk and negotiate with them for a happy resolution without involving the hassle of courts and laws.

Sue the power company to protect trees on your property

Suppose the power company is cutting trees beyond the easement and not listening to you even after much negotiation. In that case, you have to take action to sue the power company to protect trees on your property.

For that, you have to have some legal documents like a copy of the survey and a copy of the power company’s policies and easement policies. A lawsuit would follow, and I would try to help you as much as possible.

However, to get rid of all of this hassle, it’s a recommendation from Dominion Virginia Power that don’t plant a tree within fifteen feet of the power line. Trees grow in no time, so it’s recommended to read up on the tree’s average height before planting it.

Trees that mature at 20 to 45 feet tall should be placed at least 15 to 35 feet away from the power lines and if the average height is more than 45 feet, plant it 50 feet away from power lines. 

What are my rights as an owner of the property where the power company has planted trees?

As an owner of the property, you have all the right to know whether the power company has permission from the authorities to cut down your tree. To begin with, ascertain if the organization has the right to prune or remove trees.

They must be authorized by the jurisdiction’s authority to cut tress touching the power lines. Find out whether there is an easement on your property that would let the public utility access it. In general, the owner of an easement has the right to remove any barriers that threaten to impair its full usage and are situated within its boundaries.

Additionally, the easement holder is required to remove any barriers in a way that harms the landowner’s property as little as possible. Only the necessary steps must be taken to ensure the easement holder’s complete enjoyment.

What if a power company wants to build on my property? What are my rights?

Your property might have a utility easement that allows power companies to access it for certain purposes. Due to this easement, an energy supplier may install and maintain electric power equipment on your property. They have the right to put power lines above or underground the premises of your property.

They have permission to utilize the area of your property where its towers and lines are located. So as an owner, you have all the right to use your land the way you want, but you can’t interfere with the utility easement and the electric lines or structures they are allowed to make.

Are there any benefits to having a utility company install lines on or near your property?

A utility easement does offer the advantages of contemporary life. Without these easements, utility providers can find it challenging to supply services for our modern lives, such as sewage, power, and water. This benefits the owners because this easement makes it possible to control utilities.

You will no longer be stressed when there is an issue regarding utility as the utility company will look after the issues and fix them. 

What are the laws regarding tree cutting by power companies?

Countries have different laws regarding tree trimming by power companies, but we have mentioned a few laws that are usually followed in every state. Power companies like Consumer Energy and Idaho power are also mentioned in the chart with their specific rules related to tree cutting. 

What are the laws regarding tree cutting by power companies?

What is the reason for power companies to cut trees?

Power companies are obliged to cut trees for the safety and security purposes of the public. Here are some reasons why power companies cut trees, along with the explanations below the chart.

What is the reason for power companies to cut trees?

Hazardous Trees: 

Trees are good conductors of electricity. They can cause electricity outrages when their branches are near or touch the power lines. Hence, power companies have to cut them when they are near the power line to prevent any kind of disruption.

To prevent fatalities and serious injuries:

When someone is standing near a tree touching the power line, serious injuries and even death can occur as electricity can travel from the tree to that person. Power companies cut or trim trees beforehand to ensure public safety.

Vegetation Management: 

The purposeful control and eradication of undesirable plants are vegetation management. Such vegetation poses a hazard to infrastructures like power lines, railroads, and other things and can greatly impact communities and the standard of services offered.

For this purpose, power companies have to maintain and trim trees. They should also submit yearly reports to the IURC (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission) addressing vegetation management.

Restoring electrical facilities:

One of the main reasons for power outages during storms is trees colliding with power cables. Storms may harm the distribution system for electricity. Power companies cut down or remove trees to replace or repair the power lines to restore power to the region.

How does a utility company obtain permission to cut trees?

Generally, the state’s law allows the utility company to cut trees falling on the power lines to ensure safety, but property owners can have issues with that. So usually, an easement gives the company the right to remove hazardous trees.

A law in the US permits electric companies to prune or remove any hazardous trees without the owner of the adjacent property’s permission. Suppose the organization cannot secure the owner’s permission. In that case, it may prune or chop down the tree with the permission of the local tree warden or DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection).

Frequently Asked Questions

How close to power lines can you cut trees?

You must maintain a distance of at least 10 feet when operating close to electricity lines, per federal regulations. By doing this, you can avoid unintentionally touching live wires.

Can I remove a branch from a power line?

You should never attempt to take down a branch from a power line by yourself. Employees of power companies who are particularly trained to conduct this have specialized protective gear to keep them from electrical shock.

Can you cut a tree touching a power line?

Not at all! A tree touching a power line is extremely dangerous as it causes a serious electrical disruption and causes serious damage to you. It can even be fatal. Don’t ever try to cut a tree by yourself.

Trimming close to power lines is only permitted by line clearance employees with an OSHA certification. So contact them when you see a tree touching the power lines. It can be illegal for you to cut or trim trees touching power lines.

How far should trees be from power lines?

Trees that mature at 20 to 45 feet tall should be placed at least 15 to 35 feet away from the power lines and if the average height is more than 45 feet, plant it 50 feet away from power lines.

Can trees be in power lines?

No tree over 25 feet in height should be planted under these wires. Otherwise, it can cause electric outrages.

Why do they plant trees under power lines?

Some property owners or the general public plant trees without monitoring the power lines. Before planting any trees, the space and height limitations should be assessed.

Can PG&E cut trees on my property?

Trees and branches that cause outages will be cut down by PG&E workers or contractors. The tree owner is in charge of cleaning up the remainder of the trees once the vegetation has been removed.

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