Tree & Vegetation Management
Delivering safe, reliable power is our priority. Our vegetation management crew works to keep trees, shrubs, vines and other vegetation off power lines and the right-of-way clear so your power gets to you safely and stays on.
We at SVEC understand the important benefits that trees add to our community: they provide beauty, shade, and enhance the environment. Although they are a beautiful addition to our landscapes, trees can cause many problems with the electrical system.
Trees and limbs that come into contact with the electric lines, either from growing under the lines or from the side, can cause electrical outages. Trees that come into contact with electrical lines also have the potential to become energized therefore pose a safety hazard. In addition to growth, dead trees or those with defects can fall breaking lines and poles.
In our efforts to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy, SVEC has established an aggressive tree trimming maintenance program that trims approximately 500 miles of line per year.
During the maintenance program we trim all limbs away from the lines, remove brush growing under the lines and remove any trees posing hazards. Our trimming practices have been established by the International Society of Arboriculture and American National Standard A300. Our trimming methods have been designed to direct growth away from the electrical lines.
SVEC will make reasonable efforts to notify you in advance before tree trimming or herbicide spraying will take place. The exceptions to our notification policy are during storm emergencies or following outages. In these instances, SVEC’s goal is to take actions necessary to either restore electric service or keep further outages from occurring in the timeliest fashion.
Planting & Trimming Guidelines
We would like your help keeping the lights on. What this means is before you plant a new tree consider how big the tree will be when it is mature. Will the tree reach the electric lines in height or width? If it will, choose another species or plant it back far enough so that the longest limb will not come within 20 feet of the electric lines. We would also like to encourage you not to plant shrub or flowers under the lines because when access to the lines is needed, it makes it more difficult for our employees and contractors.
Some neighborhoods in our service area have underground electric lines. This means they come with transformers - a large green box - sitting on the ground. When our service people need to access these they need adequate room to work safely, therefore we ask that you not plant anything within 10 feet of underground transformers.
For help in choosing species and planting advice visit www.arborday.org or your favorite nursery.
Electricity, Trees and Your Safety
❶Remember to have all underground utilities marked before planting or digging for any reason by calling TN One Call at 811 or 1-800-351-1111.
❷Parents and caregivers please do not let children climb trees near electric lines.
❸NEVER touch or go near a tree or limb that is caught on a line, even if you believe it is not energized.
❹Do not cut or trim large branches from a tree that is near power lines without first consulting SVEC.
❺ Watch out for tree limbs that may have taken down power lines, especially after storms. A downed power line can be a deadly hazard. Always call 911 if you see downed lines, stay far away and do not touch anything that may be in contact with the line, including trees or branches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, SVEC prunes a two-foot radius around services (from the SVEC power line to the home) during our regular six-year pruning cycle. If there is an emergency, we will look at it on a case by case basis.
SVEC adheres to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300, Standard Practices for Trees, Shrubs and Other Woody Plant Maintenance. This standard, endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture and the National Arborist Association, requires that tree-trimmers cut branches back to the parent limb. This practice allows the pruning cuts to “heal” rapidly, reducing the chances of insect and disease damage, and promotes a healthier regrowth of branches that are directed away from the power lines.
Pruning considerations include species of tree, growth and regrowth rate, location of trees in proximity of power-lines, construction, length of pruning cycle, natural tree shape and branching pattern, general tree condition, appearance after pruning and tree-owner input.
SVEC uses the “natural-trimming” method. With natural trimming the branches are pruned back to a natural point of growth in the crown of the tree. Natural trimming is healthier than tree “topping,” which is the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to reduce the size of the tree crown. Although topping generally leaves the tree with a more uniform or balanced appearance, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) calls topping “perhaps the most harmful pruning practice known.” According to the ISA, topping stresses trees and can make them more vulnerable to insect, disease and infections, resulting in rapid decay.
SVEC employs a highly trained staff of foresters who have college degrees and experience in forestry or natural resources and are certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture. The right-of-way team is responsible for directing the work of contract line-clearance crews.
It is essential that tree trimming be done properly to ensure tree health and safe, dependable electric service. To assure that proper tree trimming and removal is performed, SVEC contracts with professional line-clearance tree-trimming firms. These firms are required to be licensed to work in SVEC’s service area and must adhere to all standards, guidelines and laws governing the performance of tree work. Each contract employee receives ongoing training to achieve and maintain line-clearance tree-trimmer certification by the Occupational Safety and Health Association. Identification cards are issued to employees of the tree-trimming firms contracted by SVEC.
The following priorities are followed in determining when and where tree-trimming will be done:
- Reports of outages caused by trees
- Areas where trees have been damaged by storms
- During regular tree-trimming cycles
- Based on periodic inspections by SVEC
- Reports from customers indicating potential tree/power-line problems
Trees that interfere with or have a potential for interfering with power lines and trees that obstruct the route of new lines will be trimmed or removed. There are, however, two exceptions:
- Trees that interfere with service wires from SVEC poles to the member’s house or building and yard-light wires will not normally be trimmed until the routine trimming cycle. SVEC does not remove trees along service wires. However, arrangements can be made to have service wires temporarily removed to permit the property owner or a contactor to remove any trees necessary. Members must contact SVEC several days in advance for SVEC to temporarily remove service wires. This service is not available on weekends or holidays and may be delayed due to emergency work.
- SVEC will not trim trees near streetlights to improve illumination.
If SVEC requires that a tree be trimmed, all branches and wood cut from the tree will be removed from the property. The property owner may keep any portion of the branches or wood if desired. The removal of a tree will require a signed form stating the property owner’s approval for tree removal. Tree Removals are a case-by-case situation and will require an SVEC arborist to take a look beforehand. SVEC will not cut wood to uniform length or stack the wood. Trees to be removed will be cut as close to ground level as possible, but SVEC does not remove stumps.
Trees or limbs that have fallen during storms are the responsibility of the property owner. The property owner is also responsible for the disposal of all limbs and wood resulting from the trimming of storm damaged trees during SVEC’s service-restoration efforts.
SVEC respects the property of its member-owners and will notify the property owner of the need for tree work before trimming is done. However, in unusual situations it may be necessary to trim trees without notification in order to restore service or eliminate safety hazards. Right-of-way provisions, easements, covenants and SVEC’s service agreement with our customers grant SVEC the authority to trim trees without property owner permission, however, every effort is made to communicate with the member to alleviate concerns.
SVEC recommends the removal of trees that will require extensive trimming on a regular basis. But trees will not be removed without the property owner’s permission.
Wood not wanted by the property owner will be made available to the public with the following considerations:
- Persons who want wood on private property need to make arrangements with the property owner
- Wood will not be cut to uniform size or any smaller than necessary for normal handling
- Wood will not be loaded into private vehicles or trailers
- Wood will not be stacked or separated
- When it is cost-effective to do so, wood and wood chips may be placed on private or public property with approval of the property owner
SVEC will assist property owners and/or their commercial contractors, at their request, with the trimming and removal of trees that are near SVEC electric wires. SVEC contractors are to trim only along electrical lines during normal SVEC working hours. However, to request tree-trimming that is not near electrical lines, members can ask the contracting crew about possible jobs on the side after normal SVEC working hours.
Yes, in order to maintain reliable electrical service to our members, we do use herbicides to control brush under the power lines. We selectively target only those species that will grow into the lines and will choose only areas of right-of-way that are not maintained by some other means.
Yards, gardens, hay/livestock fields and other maintained areas will not be sprayed.
The products used for treatment have been approved for use by the EPA and the State of Tennessee and are applied using a combination of backpack and truck sprayers.
Herbicide treatment is normally done in the spring and summer. We issue notices in the SVEC member newsletter when it is time to spray.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the use of herbicides or our line clearance operations, please use the contact form below to send us a message.