Be cooperative with the inspectors and tree trimmers. They will try to answer your questions the best they can. When the crews arrive, they need free and clear access to the trees to be trimmed. They also appreciate having animals restrained, so that they can work without interruption.
Typically, only high-voltage overhead power lines are cleared of vegetation. These are the lines in the highest position on power poles. The words “High Voltage” are marked on poles or cross-arms with high voltage lines. Secondary lines, those below the transformer, are only trimmed if there is strain or abrasion present.
The service drop is the electrical line that runs from the utility pole to your home or business and is typically not high voltage. This line only serves you and is not typically trimmed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. If you think tree branches are straining or abrading your service drop Care should be taken by anyone clearing trees near service drops, because, although the lines may be low voltage, an electrical contact could result in injury or death.
We require contractors to disinfect their tools between locations if there is a known disease in the area, as appropriate or as recommended by state and local agencies.
When our inspection staff identifies tree trimming or pole clearing work to be done on your property, you should be notified. Your permission is not required, because state law mandates that we maintain our lines, and keep them safe and hazard-free.
Trees that require trimming are those that currently, or will within a year, encroach on high-voltage power lines. Tree inspectors assess the location of trees and their growth rate.
The amount of trimming necessary is prescribed by a qualified utility forester, based on tree growth and structure, wind sway and line sag. Factors that influence the amount and type of trimming necessary include species of tree, environmental factors, irrigation, proximity of the tree to a line and line configuration. As always, we also need to include a reasonable margin of safety above the absolute minimum clearance requirements.
If any part of a tree holding a tree house is within 10 feet of a power line, it is too close, and the risk of electrocution to children playing in the tree house is very high. Make sure that children cannot reach the lines with a pole or any other object. For more information about tree houses, please visit our Power Line Safety & Trees page. If in doubt, call 1 (800) PGE-5000 to have the situation checked.
Undergrounding of lines sounds like an aesthetic and safe alternative to overhead lines, and sometimes it is. But undergrounding comes with an extremely high price tag, coupled with longer outages and more difficult repairs in the event of a power failure. Pacific Gas and Electric Company supports a program, Rule 20, which has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, to underground existing overhead lines in areas where there will be general public benefits from the undergrounding as recommended by local counties and cities.
While we can frequently trim trees to re-direct growth away from the power lines, this is not possible with Palm trees once they are within 10 feet of the high voltage lines. Palm trees within 10 feet can be a frequent source of outages in your community during storms and wind events. Our arborists have determined that the pruning required will be below the center initiating growth and the palm will probably die. We offer two options for our customers when palms are within 10 feet of the high voltage lines. For more information about our options, click here to learn about Right Tree Right Place.