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Major outages due to high winds. Stay safe and avoid downed power lines.

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Tree Trimming

We Trim Trees to Keep Your Lights On

Severe weather, including strong winds, lightning, and ice storms, is the main cause of power outages. Storms can cause trees and tree limbs to fall on overhead power lines, damage our equipment, and interrupt your service.

To protect our equipment and prevent power outages, we regularly inspect and carefully trim trees to keep them safe distances away from overhead power lines. We hire professional foresters who are specially trained in preserving tree health and follow International Society of Arboriculture pruning guidelines.

As weather forecasters warn of increasingly severe weather in the future, we are working hard to prevent outages and reduce the time it takes to restore power when an outage occurs. Read more (PDF) about how we are strengthening our systems against storm damage.

Tree Trimming Along Distribution Wires

Overhead distribution wires travel along streets and sidewalks, typically on wooden poles. They deliver electricity directly to homes and businesses and carry lower voltages than transmission wires. We have about 34,000 miles of overhead distribution wires and 198,000 poles in Westchester County and New York City.

Every three years, we trim trees to create these minimum distances between distribution wires and surrounding trees. These standards reflect generally accepted industry best practices in the Northeast, taking into account both the types of trees that grow here and the length of the growing season.

Tree Trimming Along Transmission Wires

Transmission wires carry high-voltage electricity over long distances. They are supported by large steel towers installed on property called a right-of-way.

We manage trees and plants around transmission lines according to New York State regulations to keep the operation of these lines safe and reliable. Planting any vegetation on the transmission right-of-way is prohibited.

We trim:

  • Trees in the right-of-way that can grow tall enough to come near the wires
  • Side trees located off the right-of-way, but with branches that grow near our wires

Lower-growing trees that don’t get in the way of our safety inspections or equipment can stay on the right-of-way.

Our contractors trim and remove trees along the right-of-way generally every three years. We visit some areas more frequently. If you live next to our right-of-way, we’ll let you know when we’re going to trim in your area.

Be Aware of Hazardous Trees

When doing yardwork, check your trees for signs of disease. Ailing trees could fall and cause an outage for you and your neighbors, and possibly affect critical infrastructure, such as schools, water, and sewage service. Plus, you could be held responsible for property damage.

When we work in your area, our arborists will let you know if you have a hazardous tree on your property, and with your permission, we will prune it, or if necessary, remove it for you. We will never trim or remove a tree that is not in our right of way without your permission.

If you’re a customer in Westchester County and notice a hazardous, ailing tree on your property that could fall on our power lines, you may be eligible to have the tree removed for free. Email us to learn more.

Choosing the Right Tree for the Right Place

When you’re planting trees, pick the right tree for the right place. Think about how large it will be when it’s fully grown. Call 811 before you dig, drill, or excavate the ground, to make sure you're clear of all underground utility lines.

Under the ground are natural gas, electricity, water, sewer, phone, and cable lines. Accidentally damaging a gas pipeline or electric cable with a shovel or other equipment can cause an electric shock, fire, or explosion.

Planting Below a Distribution Wire

Choose short trees that will not reach the wires when they grow to maturity. The distance between the ground and the power line will vary, depending on the height at which lines are attached to poles and the degree to which they sag. A good rule of thumb is to select trees with a mature height of less than 20 feet. 

Planting Beside a Distribution Wire

Choose medium-sized trees, 25 to 35 feet tall. Plant these trees at a distance away from the power line at least equal to their maximum crown radius (half the width of the tree at its widest point). If you must use taller trees, select a species that has an upright branching habit and a narrow crown. Place larger trees away from power lines at a distance greater than the maximum crown radius. Avoid trees with weak wood, such as poplars and willows, because their limbs break easily during storms. 

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