Understand the dangers of working near high-voltage power lines

Pruning trees next to power lines can be dangerous. Qualified contractors have special training and use insulated tools to avoid harm when pruning. Without the proper training and tools, a person can be injured or even killed. Hiring an unqualified tree contractor can also put you at legal risk.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) requires training and qualification of persons working within specific distances of overhead power lines. For details, see Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, Articles 37 and 38, Electrical Safety Orders. 

PG&E can also help with pruning your trees. We can create a safe distance between your trees and power lines. You can then hire a contractor for any additional work. PG&E does not prune trees for service drops. These wires are low voltage and insulated. They do not have the same distance rules as high voltage power lines. You can call 1-800-743-5000 to request a temporary service shutoff if you feel that your home service drop is unsafe.


Tree debris management

PG&E and our tree contractors do not have the authority to remove wood because the trees on your land are your property. As a courtesy, tree crews cut larger limbs into more manageable lengths and leave wood on-site for customer use. They also chip woody debris, including dead material, up to four inches in diameter wherever accessible, or follow best-management practices established for safe, environmentally responsible debris disposal.


Order free safety materials for tree workers

PG&E offers resources for the tree care business. If you are in this business and want to better understand our tree care standards, visit PG&E Safety & Education. For tree worker information, visit Tree Worker Safety Around Electric and Gas Lines.


Programs for orchard growers

Get information about our Mature Orchard Incentive Program, which helps growers prevent outages, and the Orchard Worker Safety Program, which helps protect orchard workers, visit PG&E Safety & Education. For infromation on orchard worker safety , visit Our Orchard Worker Safety Program.


Contact PG&E if you see a tree that needs pruning

PG&E continually works on pruning trees that grow too close to our facilities. We want to reduce fire hazards and keep the public safe. We also want to provide uninterrupted electrical service. If you’re concerned about trees that appear too close to power lines, please call 1-800-743-5000 (1-800-PGE-5000). You can also contact PG&E for other questions about trees and power line safety. Visit Questions About Trees and Power Lines. We can plan a visit to check the trees growing near power lines.


Consider where to plant your trees

When planting vegetation on your property, think about placement. Trees need space to grow above and below ground. Think about how a tree will grow under or near power lines. A tree’s placement can reduce fire hazards and limit the need for constant pruning. Proper placement can also increase property value and add beauty to your community.

It’s important to know which trees are best for planting near power lines. The Urban Forest Ecosystem Institute website has more information. Visit SelecTree Utility Precautions. To search a database that contains over 1400 different types of trees and shrubs, visit SelecTree: A Tree Selection Guide. This website provides info about the plants that can grow well in your area.

PG&E must keep underground utilities accessible for repairs. Ensure that you plant trees at least six feet from underground facilities. Contact Underground Service Alerts (USA) to find the underground facilities on your property. Call USA at 1-800-227-260, or visit USA NORTH 811.


Keep tree houses near power lines safe

Tree houses near PG&E facilities are very dangerous. Injuries or even death can result if:

  • Branches contact high voltage lines and electrify trees 
  • A person climbs from the tree house into electrical lines 
  • Sticks or other objects come in contact with electrical lines 

PG&E representatives can determine if tree houses are too close to power lines. Hazards are marked with a flag. PG&E can alert you of the danger either by phone or with a letter. For more information about power line safety for children, visit Safe Kids.


Create a defensible space around your home

You can help protect your property by creating a defensible space around your household. Defensible space is a perimeter around your home and other structures. This space can help stop the spread of fire.
Following are a few tips on how to create a defensible space and prevent the spread of fire:

  • Keep a clearing of at least 100 feet around your house to reduce fire hazards.
  • Leave space between planted vegetation. The space can prevent pathways that allow fires to spread.
  • Create "fuel breaks" such as driveways, gravel walkways or lawns.
  • Dispose of tree trimmings and other debris quickly. Local regulations define how quickly you must dispose of debris.

Discover more fire-wise tips. Visit NFPA Firewise Communities. The California Fire Safe Council also has a "Homeowners Checklist" to help make your home fire-safe. Visit California Fire Safe Council.


Stay safe during storm outages

PG&E has a Vegetation Management Program. This program helps reduce storm damage and power outages.
You can help by alerting us to possible issues caused by trees. Contact PG&E if you see these signs of trouble:

  • Trees that are uprooting or leaning toward power lines 
  • Trees that have previously come into contact with power lines 
  • Trees near power lines that have blown over due to strong winds 

PG&E crews or our tree-pruning contractors can remove trees and branches that cause power outages. After clearing the vegetation, the tree owner is responsible for the rest of the trees’ clean up. PG&E is only responsible for restoring your electrical service. If you have phone, cable or other utility outages, reach out to those companies to restore your services.