Let’s Keep Trees Away from Power Lines

Man working in cherry picker to cut tree limbs

Trees, shrubs, and other vegetation can cause safety hazards and power outages if they grow into or near power lines. In support of safety, we regularly trim or remove trees that are dead, dying, or diseased, or growing near or under power lines.

What is Vegetation Management?

Vegetation management is a broad term that describes work we do to minimize the impact trees and vegetation have on providing safe and reliable electric service. It includes hazard tree assessments, tree pruning and removal, brush removal, and weed abatement.

It is a matter of public safety and for the reliability of the power grid. California regulations require utilities to trim trees or vegetation so they don’t grow into or fall into high-voltage power lines, which could not only cause a power outage but could spark a fire or be a danger to the public.

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Contact Us About Trees and Vegetation Near Power Lines

If you have any questions about vegetation located near SCE power lines, contact SCE Customer Support:
800-655-4555

  • Report an object caught in power lines: 1-800-611-1911
  • Report an outage: 1-800-611-1911
  • Before you dig: Call 811
  • Electrical Emergency: Call 911

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SCE Trims Trees to Keep You Safe. SCE trims trees near power lines as a free service to customers to keep the public safe. Trees will be trimmed to create a minimum 12-foot clearance from a power line at the time of trim. Did you know? SCE inspects 1.4 million trees every year, more than 700,000 in high fire risk areas. How will I know if my tree is being trimmed? A door hanger will be posted 30-45 days prior to trimming. A second door hanger will be posted 24-48 hours before trimming. Customers will be contacted in person if heavy pruning or tree removal is required. Who can I call? The door hanger will list a contact number to call to discuss the tree trimming plan for your property. For more information, visit SCE.com/safety/power-lines or call 800-655-4555.

Brush removal near SCE poles is required and helps keep communities safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why does SCE trim trees?

A1. It is a matter of public safety and the reliability of the power grid. State regulations require utilities to trim trees or vegetation which could cause a power outage and spark a fire or be a danger to the public. Enhanced tree trimming is part of the SCE Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

Q2. How will I know if SCE is going to trim my trees?

A2. SCE conducts annual inspections of trees and vegetation near lines. If a tree is identified for “light pruning,” the customer will be notified via door hanger 30-45 days before maintenance. A second door hanger is provided within 24-48 hours before scheduled maintenance. The door hanger has a phone number the customer can call for more information. Customers with trees that require “heavy pruning” will be contacted in person by SCE to discuss a pruning plan.

Q3. How many trees are we talking about?

A3. SCE currently inspects every year about 1.4 million trees that might pose a hazard to power lines throughout its 50,000-square-mile area. More than 700,000 are located in high-fire risk areas.

Q4. What does SCE consider when pruning a tree?

A4. SCE’s responsibility is to protect public safety and the reliability of electric facilities. Therefore, pruning only occurs on the sides of the tree that could encroach on power lines. SCE prunes the tree in accordance with national standards designed to protect the health of trees. The pruning focuses on line clearance and does not necessarily encompass the entire tree or consider the resulting aesthetics.

Q5. Do you use arborists? What is their role?

A5. SCE has certified arborists throughout its vegetation management operation. All of SCE’s vegetation management senior specialists are certified arborists, and the contractors hired by SCE have arborists among their foremen. In addition to their arborist certification, they complete additional training to work around power lines.

Q6. What happens when you have to remove a tree?

A6. SCE confers with the property owner to explain the tree removal process. SCE obtains customer permission prior to the removal of a tree. Under imminent situations, SCE reserves the right to proceed without permission. An SCE tree trimming crew will cut down the tree at no charge to the customer. The crew will dispose of the tree or, if the property owner chooses, cut it into firewood.

Q7. Will I have to pay for SCE’s tree trimming or removal?

A7. No, all tree trimming is done as part of SCE’s vegetation maintenance work with no additional cost to the customer.

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Q8. Can I have my own tree trimmer prune my tree?

A8. Only specially trained tree trimmers can work near power lines. Homeowners who hire their own tree trimmers to prune or remove trees near wires must first notify SCE. This includes work on any tree within 10 feet of SCE lines or trees that could come in contact with wires or equipment if they fall.

SCE offers a free “make-safe” program. As part of this program, SCE will assess and remove portions of trees to a level that would allow other workers to safely remove or prune the rest of the tree. This includes treating stumps after a tree is removed after customer approval has been obtained. For all inquiries, please contact Customer Support at (800) 655-4555 or sce.com.

Q9. What are the rules for trimming trees?

A9. Regulations (CPUC GO 95, Rule 35 and CA PRC 4292 and 4293) require utilities to trim trees or vegetation so they don’t grow into or fall into high-voltage power lines, which could not only cause a power outage, but could spark a fire or be a danger to the public.

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Q10. What should I consider when planting a tree?

A10. While trees and vegetation provide many benefits, they can also present major obstacles in meeting Southern California Edison’s responsibility to deliver electricity to customers as safely as possible. If you’re planting a new tree, consider where you place it and what it will look like in 10 or 20 years. A free printable brochure, “Right Tree, Right Place,” offers SCE customers safety tips and a sampling of utility-friendly tree species recommended for planting.

Q11. What should I do if I think I have a tree that may be a hazard?

A11. Stay away from the hazard and immediately contact SCE Customer Support: 800-655-4555

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Q12. What if I have other questions about SCE’s vegetation management activities?

A12. Please contact SCE Customer Support: 800-655-4555

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