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Our program is on a 3-year cycle, which effectively means 1/3 of the Town's trees are trimmed each year. You can find out when your area will be trimmed (PDF).
Most deciduous trees (non-evergreen) quickly re-grow after they have been pruned. This means the Town of Clayton must prune the trees over and over again, as they re-encroach upon the lines. The length of time depends on the amount of clearance obtained at the time of tree work, the rate of tree growth and the amount of tree-line clearance to be maintained at all times. This in turn depends on tree species, tree size, local site conditions and the ever-changing weather from year to year. The less clearance obtained, the more frequently the tree must be pruned. It may seem that obtaining less clearance more often would be healthier for the tree, but that is not necessarily the case, according to international arborists. It is a trade-off between more, smaller cuts more frequently, or fewer, larger cuts less often. There is not a universal answer, and the Town of Clayton feels we've set up a tree maintenance cycle that finds balance between the reliability of the power lines and the health and esthetics of our town's trees.
The Town of Clayton contracts with professional tree trimming companies who use trained, skilled technicians who utilize a technique called "directional pruning." While rounding over trees may look better, international arbor organizations maintain that directional pruning is better for the health of the tree. With directional pruning, entire limbs or portions of limbs growing toward the lines are removed at the main branch or trunk. They are removed at a point where they would naturally shed. By doing this, future growth will be directed away from the wires, and rapidly growing attached sprouts will be minimized.
Each tree is different and must be considered individually. Species growth habit (rate, size, shape, etc) and the tree's position in relation to the power line needs to be taken into consideration prior to trimming. The current condition of the tree or individual limbs is also assessed before trees are trimmed. On occasion, structural defects are found and need to be corrected in order to protect the line. Trees with trunks close to the power lines require much heavier pruning than trees located farther from the line. Some techniques that are appropriate on most deciduous trees cannot be used on some coniferous (cone-bearing) species.
When pruning operations are performed, our trimming experts make every attempt to trim sufficient clearance so that the tree will remain safe until we return on our next routine maintenance cycle.
Yes, utility representatives or contractors may enter property to trim any branches that are touching or are close to power lines. It is necessary to enter private property so that the reliability of the power system is maintained and outages are avoided. Utility companies have this right because the power lines are in the public right-of-way. In this right-of-way, utilities have permission to maintain lines.
Pruning vegetation around power lines is an extremely hazardous job. Clayton Public Power discourages you from undertaking any pruning activities close to electrical equipment. If you are concerned about the growth of trees or other vegetation on or near the service lines around your house, we encourage you to contact us at 919-553-1530, and we'll be glad to check it out.
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 Z133.1, an unqualified person should not work within 10 feet of overhead energized conductors with voltages below 50,000 volts. The distance increases with voltage for all voltages equal to or higher than 50,000 volts.