Homeowner FAQ

Our pruning methods conform to your utility’s requirements for line clearance and preservation of the tree’s health. You may contact us at (724) 887-2152, and we will be glad to review your specific situation. Generally, however, additional work solely to improve the appearance of the tree is not covered by the utility, and you may need to engage a third-party arborist for it.

Tree trimming and other forms of vegetation management are needed so that your electric utility can provide you with a reliable source of power. Fallen trees and limbs are the most common causes of power outages. A tree limb that makes contact with your service line (which runs from your home to the utility pole) can interrupt electrical service to your home. A tree limb that makes contact with the distribution line (which runs from one pole to another) can interrupt electrical service to your neighborhood. A tree whose branches are energized is a serious public safety hazard, since anyone who climbs the tree could be electrocuted.

We follow generally accepted national standards for line clearance tree trimming. These standards call for a technique known as directional pruning, which removes branches growing toward the power lines and leaves the rest of the tree intact. With directional pruning, entire branches under, over or beside power lines are pruned back to the main stem of the tree or to another large branch, and the results can sometimes be dramatic. The technique of “rounding over,” once used by utilities to control tree size, is now known to be unhealthy for the tree and is no longer practiced. Although “rounding over” produces a more uniform or symmetrical appearance, it weakens the tree internally and affects its long-term health. (Click here for the illustrated PDF “How We Trim Trees.”)

Before we trim your tree, we identify its species and assess its overall health. Some species may be pruned more severely than others based on their rate of growth, their natural habit (spreading vs. conical, for example) or a structural weakness. In some cases, the voltage of the overhead line and the clearance required for the line may affect how we prune your tree.

Trees outside the right-of-way may be removed because they are unstable and pose a danger of falling into the utility line. Some of the most common indications of instability in a tree are a leaning trunk, dead branches or other evidence of disease, root rot and shallow root structure.

Policies on the clean-up of debris vary from one utility to the other. There is usually no clean-up of debris associated with storm damage work. Please contact your utility’s customer service department for more information on their clean-up policy.

If our personnel are working in your area, please feel free to engage them directly about firewood or mulch. (You should not, however, enter the work zone.) You may also call us at (724) 887-2152, and we will do our best to accommodate your request.