Why does my tree look lopsided after pruning?
We use a method called directional pruning to help direct tree growth away from our powerlines. While directional pruning may sometimes create an unusual appearance, it allows us to maintain the safe and required distance between trees, limbs and powerlines without removing trees.
Does directional pruning affect a tree’s health?
Directional pruning is an industry best practice used by all utilities. It is the healthiest method of pruning and reduces stress while maintaining required safety clearances. Removing branches and limbs from the top of a tree may create an unbalanced appearance, but it does not affect the root system or stability.
Why do my trees require pruning?
We prune or remove trees to maintain required state and federal safety clearances from our facilities and to prevent contact with our lines and potential ignitions. We maintain a minimum clearance of 18 inches around our powerlines 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.
Will I be notified before PG&E performs work on my trees?
We attempt to notify customers of upcoming, scheduled tree safety inspections and work by phone or by leaving a door hanger. During the inspections, we try to reach out to landowners if they are on the property when we mark trees that require pruning with paint using a dot at the base of the tree or an X if removal is required. Our certified tree contractors typically return within 4 to 6 weeks following inspections to prune and remove marked trees unless emergency work is required. This work may be performed by multiple contractors over the course of several days depending on the needed work.
Can I opt out of tree pruning or tree maintenance?
No. Depending on a tree’s location, either pruning or removal may be necessary to maintain the required minimum safety clearance or to ensure the safe operation of our facilities going forward. However, we are typically willing to remove a tree as an alternative to pruning at the customer’s request.
How can I ensure my trees do not require pruning?
You can reduce or avoid future pruning, reduce fire hazards, promote safety, and reduce the risk of damage to properties and powerlines by planting the right tree in the right place. Small, powerline-friendly trees in the right location do not require pruning because they are not at risk of growing into or falling into powerlines. For more information and planting guides, visit pge.com/righttreerightplace.
Does PG&E use herbicides on vegetation?
Yes, in certain circumstances. We use selective herbicide treatments as part of our Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) program associated with vegetation management work near high-voltage transmission lines. This is a follow-up to our annual transmission lines work to control the re-growth of incompatible woody vegetation and trees. Often, PG&E also treats tree stumps following tree removal under distribution lines to prevent re-growth.
How do you determine when to use herbicides?
During our IVM work, we use selected herbicide treatments when prescribed by a licensed pest control advisor to prevent the regrowth of brush and trees that have been removed. This work also includes vegetation treatments such as cutting and chipping, lopping and scattering, and mechanical mowing.
Why is this work needed?
Removing incompatible, non-native or hazardous trees and plants under our transmission lines promotes the growth of low-growing compatible plants and reduces invasive weeds to help support a healthy and natural environment. Our IVM program also:
Are the herbicides PG&E uses approved by the EPA?
Yes. We use only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved herbicides near our transmission powerlines and on trees removed under distribution lines. Anyone from PG&E applying herbicides is supervised by a person with a Qualified Applicator License (or similar certification) from the Department of Pesticide Regulations, a division of the California EPA.
What guidelines and rules does PG&E follow when working on trees?
We prune or remove trees near powerlines to reduce wildfire risks, enhance public safety and reliability, and comply with a number of state and federal regulations, including:
How do I know which rules may apply to my property?
To find out if you live in a CPUC-designated High Fire-Threat District or CAL FIRE responsibility area, visit the maps below.
Can multiple rules apply to my property when PG&E performs tree work?
Yes. When an area is subject to multiple regulations, we comply with the strictest clearance standards to maintain a safe distance between trees and powerlines. This approach helps enhance the reliability of our electric system, protect public safety, and reduce the risk of wildfires and tree-related outages.
How can I tell the voltage of a powerline on or near my property?
Transmission lines transport high-voltage electricity and typically serve entire cities or towns. They are usually located on large metal towers up to 180 feet tall. Lower-voltage distribution lines deliver into local neighborhoods and are usually located on wooden poles. If you have questions about the voltage and type of powerline on or near your property, please contact us at 1-800-743-5000.
Does PG&E prune trees beyond the minimum required clearance requirements?
We perform tree work near powerlines to help keep the lights on and communities safe. At times, it is necessary to prune trees beyond the minimum required clearance to ensure year-round compliance with regulations and to allow trees to grow between inspections without creating a potential safety hazard.
How often will you perform inspections and tree work?
Our Vegetation Management crews perform tree inspections along approximately 100,000 miles of overhead powerlines every year, with some locations patrolled and worked multiple times a year, depending upon the vegetation. Tree work occurs as needed based on the results of these inspections.
What does PG&E do to restore electric service and clean up debris after a storm?
After a storm, our emergency crews work to restore power to neighborhoods and communities as quickly and safely as possible. This work may involve removing trees that have fallen into powerlines or that are at an elevated risk of falling due to the storm. The property owner, who is the owner of trees on the property, is responsible for removing any wood debris after this work is complete.
What can I expect during PG&E’s storm response work?
You may see our crews, vehicles and equipment as we work to restore electric service to our customers and remove hazardous trees. All personnel are required to carry valid photo identification and are happy to provide it upon request.
How do you determine which trees require removal?
In addition to trees that have fallen into powerlines, we look for trees that have:
Why is storm debris left on site?
The wood from our emergency response work belongs to the property owner. As a result, we leave the wood on site for the customer to use or remove.
How can I safely remove storm-related wood debris on my property?
To dispose of wood debris, we recommend contacting your local fire safe council. To find your council, visit cafiresafecouncil.org. Other clean-up options include:
How can I report an outage or tree-related issue?
To report a power outage, visit pge.com/outages or call us at 1-800-743-5002. Other utilities such as phone and cable providers are responsible for restoring their service. For tree-related questions or to report a hazardous tree, call 1-800-743-5000.