Put the right tree in the right place when it comes to power lines, utilities

Put the right tree in the right place when it comes to power lines, utilities
Planting trees and landscaping your yard is certainly important, but there are some things to keep in mind. (Getty Images)

Longtime Alabama residents will tell you that the spring planting season typically starts around Easter. The successful “green thumb” will also tell you that good gardens and great landscaping take planning.

With that in mind, Alabama Power has a resource to help you decide which plants and trees will play nice with nearby power lines and structures.

In all, the utility has a lot of ground to cover. The transmission lines – the tall ones running from power facilities to substations – cover more than 10,000 miles of corridors, and the rights-of-way take up 100,000 acres. Clearing the local distribution lines (the ones running to homes and businesses) means Alabama Power must patrol another 70,000 miles of corridors and 200,000 acres.

Trees and other vegetation that threaten to interfere with power lines and equipment become potential hazards that can cause serious injury or death. Beyond that, they are a significant factor in service interruptions.

Planting trees and landscaping your yard is certainly important, but there are some things to keep in mind. (Getty Images)

“Trees and limbs are one of the major causes of power outages,” said Corey Sweeney, Contract Services manager for Alabama Power. “Alabama is the third-most forested state in the Lower 48. Managing the vegetation on our rights-of-way corridors is an effective practice to help improve our reliability.”

Alabama Power trims and cuts only in its rights-of-way, as deemed by its specialists. Employees who manage the company’s tree-service contractors, along with the supervisors of those contractors, are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

“As natural resource managers, we have an appreciation and respect for the trees found in the environment,” Sweeney said. “We empathize with the concerns and questions our customers have relating to the trimming and removal of trees, which is performed along our facilities. Our personnel are available to speak with customers to address any of their questions or concerns regarding our work.”

Typically, before work begins in a neighborhood, a representative for Alabama Power will knock on doors and leave notices at homes where trees need trimming. A representative is also available to discuss tree-trimming guidelines with customers. The company provides a resource for those who want to plant trees and shrubs, to ensure they don’t introduce vegetation that will be a problem in coming years. You can download the Right Tree in the Right Place guide here.

For more information, call Alabama Power at 1-800-245-2244 and ask for Vegetation Management.

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