We perform annual inspections along distribution and transmission power lines to identify trees and vegetation that require pruning or removal. As part of this work, we use several different approaches to manage trees and other vegetation growing along power lines. Our various programs: 

  • Help maintain required safety clearances for each type of power line.
  • Maintain clearances surrounding certain types of power poles or towers.
  • Increase wildfire safety through enhanced vegetation management.
  • Remove hazardous vegetation, such as dead, diseased, dying or defective trees that pose a potential risk to the lines or equipment.

Usually located at the top of wood poles above the pole-mounted transformer, distribution lines deliver power into local neighborhoods. We maintain a minimum clearance of 18 inches around these power lines in non-high fire-threat areas. In areas designated as high fire-threat by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), a minimum 4-foot clearance is required with recommended minimum clearances of 12 feet at the time of pruning to maintain clearance year round.



Our work near distribution lines includes:

  • Notifications: As a first step, we leave a door hanger to notify you of upcoming safety inspections to identify trees that require pruning or removal to maintain required safety clearances over the next year.
  • Inspections: : Our tree safety inspectors mark trees that require pruning with paint using a dot at the base of the tree. They also look for trees that present a safety hazard and must be removed. These trees are typically marked with an “X.”
  • Tree work: Our certified tree contractors typically return within 4 to 6 weeks of the inspections to prune and remove marked trees.
  • Wood debris: When work is complete, we chip any wood that is less than 4 inches in diameter and leave the chips on-site. Larger wood debris is cut to a manageable size and is left for the customer to use for firewood or to dispose of as they wish. Wood or wood debris generated from vegetation management work legally belongs to the property owner.

Storm clean-up along distribution lines

After a storm, our crews help restore electric service by removing trees and branches that caused power outages or that pose an immediate safety risk or hazard. We typically leave a door hanger to notify you of this work, which addresses trees that are uprooting or leaning toward power lines, trees that have previously come into contact with power lines, and trees that are located near power lines and have blown over due to strong winds. The property owner is responsible for cleaning up any additional debris, and other utilities such as phone and cable providers are responsible for restoring their service. If you see any potential tree-related issues, please contact us at 1-800-743-5000.

Pruning trees near service wires

Customers are responsible for maintaining the service wire that runs from PG&E’s electric pole to your home, and PG&E will not prune trees or vegetation along that line. You can request a free temporary service disconnect so you or a contractor can safely work around the service wire.

Usually located on large metal towers up to 180 feet tall and sometimes on wood poles, transmission lines transport high-voltage electricity and typically serve entire cities and towns. We maintain year-round tree clearances around transmission lines to reduce the likelihood of power outages across large areas. Only low-growing shrubs are permitted underneath and between the wires on the power line, and trees along the border of the strip of land on either side of the transmission line must be no taller than 10 feet at maturity.  

Our work near transmission lines includes:

  • Notifications: A letter is generally sent to the landowner advising them of upcoming work.
  • Inspections: Our tree safety inspectors mark trees that require pruning with paint using a dot at the base of the tree. They also look for trees that present a safety hazard and must be removed. These trees are typically marked with an “X.”
  • Tree work: Our certified tree contractors typically return within 4 to 6 weeks of the inspections to prune and remove marked trees and brush.
  • Wood debris: When work is complete, wood greater than 4 inches in diameter is left on site generally in 4- to 6-foot lengths. Limbs and wood less than 4 inches in diameter are chipped or lopped and scattered on site in accordance with California Forest Practice Rules to avoid excessive vegetation build-up. Stumps are typically treated to prevent re-growth with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved herbicide that is applied directly to the stump. Anyone applying herbicides will be supervised by a person with a Qualified Applicator License (or similar certification) from the Department of Pesticide Regulations, a division of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM)

We remove incompatible or hazardous trees and non-native plants underneath our high voltage power lines utilizing what is called wire-zone-border-zone management within the transmission corridor. This work creates the opportunity for the growth of compatible plants underneath power lines and reduces invasive weeds to help support a healthy and natural environment. Our IVM program also helps reduce the spread of wildfire by creating fire safety fuel breaks and:

  • Uses erosion control techniques to prevent soil, habitat and property loss.
  • May include seeding activities to promote natural low-growing vegetation within your community.

Through our Pole Clearing and Vegetation Control program, we remove all flammable material, brush, limbs and foliage around most electric power poles and towers in areas where CAL FIRE serves as the primary response agency for fire suppression and prevention. This work includes removal of:

  • All flammable material and vegetation in a 10-foot radius around the base of the pole or tower.
  • Brush, limbs and foliage up to 8 feet above the ground.
  • Dead, dying, diseased, defective or dried vegetation from 8 feet above the ground to the top of the power lines. 

Our inspectors will notify residents of the work in person or leave a door hanger.


Pole Clearance

We take steps to restore power in wildfire areas, clear vegetation and perform emergency tree removal work. This tree work is performed in a timely manner in close coordination with local, state and federal fire and emergency agencies and begins as soon as it is safe to enter the wildfire-affected area. We patrol and typically mark the trunks of any wildfire-damaged trees that require work or removal in fluorescent green paint or tape. Removing hazardous trees is critical to restoring power quickly, ensuring public safety, and meeting state and federal requirements. In some areas, customers may qualify for free wood removal.

Wood debris from wildfire tree work is treated the same as wood debris from tree work near distribution and transmission lines. Should a specialized wood management program be implemented, customers will be notified directly. 

Enhanced Vegetation Management

VISIT ENHANCED WILDFIRE SAFETY MEASURES > 

Addressing drought and tree mortality

To help ensure public safety and address the ongoing effects of the bark beetle infestation and drought, we continue to inspect and remove dead, diseased, defective and dying trees to prevent them from falling into power lines and equipment and potentially causing wildfires and power outages. Our drought and tree mortality response includes increased vegetation inspections, removal of dead and dying trees, and wood management to qualifying properties.