Trees Around Powerlines

Don’t plant in a location near overhead and underground utility lines, including equipment such as pad-mount transformers and streetlights. Consider the location of buildings, sidewalks, and streets and future uses of the site.  Strategically planted trees can also improve a home’s energy efficiency.  Also consider the size of planting space available and the existing trees and plants.
Only qualified tree trimmers hired by utilities are allowed to trim trees near high-voltage power lines. These workers know how to trim trees to keep them healthy and make sure branches won’t touch nearby lines.
Avoid planting trees directly under power lines. If you are planting a tree within 30 feet of a power line, choose a tree that will grow no higher than 25 feet. Trees and shrubs planted over underground utilities may be damaged or completely removed if utility lines must be dug up for service. Roots from trees and plants can also cause problems as they grow.
Through the years, the small trees once planted have now grown into potential problems including service reliability and potential danger to our linemen. Many trees have to be pruned so heavily and frequently that they ultimately decline, decay or become a hazard. While the natural reaction is to “save” such trees, replacement is the most logical choice. Benton PUD will remove potential problem trees at no cost to you and also give you a certificate towards the purchase of a utility friendly tree.
There are many options of "power line friendly" trees available such as the one on this list. Or ask your nursery for help or give us a call and we are happy to answer questions and provide you with more detailed information.

Electrical equipment such as pad-mounted transformers and switch cabinets, or tops of underground vaults, need to be kept free of obstructions for service accessibility and for air circulation to prevent equipment failure. During power outages crews often find fences, shrubs and trees that have been placed or planted in front of electrical equipment that have to be removed to provide service. Removing these obstacles takes time and delays restoring power.

The front of the transformer must be free of any obstructing material so that it is clearly visible (12 feet clearance). Plantings or fencing may be placed around two sides and the back provided that a 3 foot clearance is maintained. Trees planted within 15 feet of the transformer may eventually require removal if tree roots or foliage hinder service or maintenance of the transformer. The top of the transformer must be completely unobstructed.

The more summer shade that falls on sun-exposed windows, roofs and walls, the cooler the temperature will be inside the home. Deciduous trees provide nice shade in the summer and then lose their leaves in the fall, allowing the winter sun to help warm buildings reducing winter heating costs.  Deciduous trees are recommended for the south and west side of your home. 

Shading air conditioning units can increase the unit’s operating efficiency but landscaping should not obstruct air circulation around the unit. 

Trees and shrubs planted to close to the foundation of a building can create a “dead air” space, which reduces cold winter wind currents and slows the escape of heat.  In the summer this space helps prevent heat gain. 

Using trees as windbreaks on the north or windy side of your house also helps increase energy efficiency.

The proper location of trees and landscaping will improve your home’s energy efficiency by 10 to 40%. 

Benton PUD’s pruning practice uses the technique of directional pruning, which leaves intact the branches growing away from power lines. The branches growing towards the power lines are cut at a lateral branch or stem. V-pruning and side pruning are the two main variations of directional pruning. Over time, trees develop a more natural appearance and are healthier than trees topped flat. This follows the standards set by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the International Society of Arboriculture.
Never attempt to prune trees near power lines.  If you have a tree growing into power lines call Benton  PUD Utility Tree Coordinator, Brian Cramer, at (509) 585-5399 or email him at