For transmission lines, greater distances are required from trees/vegetation because of the higher voltages. If a tree comes in contact with a transmission line, danger to anyone in proximity to the tree or the wire can increase. In concern for public safety, we urge landowners and others to use extreme caution when under or near any overhead electrical lines.
In Alabama, any living or dead tree that could fall toward a wire and pass within five feet of a conductor is defined as a "danger tree". These can be trees either on or off of the right of way. We have obtained additional danger tree rights on most of our easements, so we can prevent outages caused by trees that fall in from outside the rights of way. We typically send a postcard to landowners when danger tree work is planned.
Trees can disrupt power in a number of ways. For example, trees can grow into the electrical equipment or fall across power lines, causing outages.
To provide reliable service, we must prune or remove trees along the power lines. These practices are approved by internationally recognized tree care associations and are referred to as Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM).
An IVM program evaluates vegetation and determines the best methods for maintenance and tree removal to ensure reliable service. Our program’s objective is to minimize tree-related power outages in a manner that is consistent with good arboricultural practices.
Integrated vegetation management (IVM) is a process that balances the use of mechanical, chemical, cultural and biological treatments to establish and maintain a vegetative cover type that is compatible with the environment.
Through the IVM process, we balance the needs and safety of our customers as well as costs to provide reliable electric service.
Under certain conditions, trees and tree limbs can conduct power if they come in contact with power lines. If you see a fallen tree in contact with a power line, immediately contact Alabama Power. No one should climb trees that are in the vicinity of power lines. Serious injury or death may result from climbing a tree and making direct contact with or coming too close to an energized line.
If trees or tree limbs fall and tear down power lines, the downed power lines may still be energized while in the air or on the ground. If you see a downed line, always assume it is energized and stay away. Never touch or try to drive over a downed power line. If you see a downed line, immediately contact Alabama Power.
Alabama Power schedules periodic vegetation maintenance along power lines to minimize outages caused by trees in or near transmission and distribution rights of way. We also depend on help from the public. When people identify downed lines or trees touching power lines and act wisely, it minimizes the risk from trees contacting power lines.
We trim or cut trees only where we have a legal right to do so and only where we believe it is necessary. Our employees who manage our tree-service contractors, along with the supervisors of our contractors, are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. In other words, they are trained to know the proper techniques for trimming trees.
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.
Alabama Power trims trees to provide reliable service to our customers. Planned maintenance is prioritized by evaluating reliability data, field conditions and other specific information. There are instances when a tree must be trimmed or removed outside of planned maintenance.
Much of our pruning and cutting occurs during planned maintenance. In maintained or landscape settings, our practice is to dispose of any small limbs and brush. The larger pieces of wood are cut, but not necessarily in firewood lengths. In non-landscaped sites, pruned vegetation and wood are left in place to biodegrade.
When a severe weather situation or other natural events cause trees or other vegetation to fall across power lines and damage facilities, we cut the trees and brush, so poles and lines can be replaced and re-energized. Disposal of any wood, limbs or debris resulting from this type of emergency operation is the responsibility of the property owner.
Alabama Power uses environmentally responsible non-restricted herbicide applications to control tall-growing incompatible plants within power line rights of way. Our objective is to promote low-growing vegetation to minimize potential electric power interruptions, which also enhances wildlife habitat. We use professional crews to apply non-restricted herbicides by utilizing different methods including foliar, stump, stem and vine applications. Alabama Power crews have been trained on the proper, safe and environmentally responsible techniques of managing plant growth. All products used by Alabama Power are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency and approved by appropriate state agencies.
Occasionally, a property owner will make the decision to conduct trimming or removals on their own or hire a third party. Pruning trees around power lines should only be attempted by qualified professionals. Serious injuries, and even fatalities, have occurred when unqualified individuals perform this type of work without the assistance of qualified professionals. As stated in the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) standards and ANSI Z133, an unqualified person shall not work within 10 feet of overhead power lines with voltages below 50,000 volts. The distance increases with voltage for all voltages equal to or higher than 50,000 volts.
Call one of our Right of Way Specialists to discuss any potential plans on or near a transmission right of way.
By doing so, any potential issues can be addressed before an investment has been made.