Frequently Asked Questions

PECO is committed to providing customers with reliable electric service. Tree branches that contact power lines can cause interruptions to power supply. These interruptions, aside from being inconvenient, also pose a threat to public health and safety. For example, power supply interruptions affect those on life support, and may disrupt schools, hospitals, traffic signals, and sewer and water pumping facilities.

Vegetation Management's program is designed to minimize such service interruptions by clearing limbs, trees, vines, and other vegetation away from power lines. By doing this before the vegetation has a chance to cause power supply interruptions, we can help assure you reliable electric service.

PECO follows the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A300, part 1, when pruning trees.  Several factors are considered when pruning a tree for line clearance.  The following is a prioritized list of the factors considered when performing utility line clearance work:

  • Service reliability to PECO customers.
  • Use of correct pruning techniques (ANSI Standards).
  • Type of PECO facility and construction.

In general, smaller or slower growing trees will require less pruning than faster of taller growing trees.  PECO encourages customers to “Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place”, to minimize conflicts with electrical facilities.   The amount of pruning required for line clearance depends on several factors:

  • Growth rate characteristics of the species (how fast new branches will grow back).
  • Flexibility of the branch nearest the wire (how much the branch will sway in the wind)
  • Voltage carried by the line (the hazard presented by branch contact).

No. However, you can contact your local communication provider for further information.

PECO vegetation management crews are specially trained, according to OSHA Regulations and ANSI Standards, in order to safely work on trees close to electrical conductors.

PECO also requires that line clearance specialists be trained in proper arboricultural pruning techniques, which follow the professional standards (ANSI Standard A300, part 1), and the best management practices published by the International Society of Arboriculture.

Yes. The property owner may want to have trees removed to avoid the need for future periodic pruning. Small "volunteer" trees or trees inappropriately planted too close to lines are good candidates for removal.  PECO will be happy to review possible candidates on a case by case basis.

PECO's contract crews do not use commercial tree paint products because these are no longer recommended in the arboriculture industry. The latest research indicates that such dressings are primarily cosmetic and do not stop decay.

PECO's vegetation management program is designed to minimize interruptions to electrical supply. The closer a tree grows to a high voltage line, the greater amount of pruning required to maintain a minimum clearance between the tree and the power wires.  The amount of pruning required varies based on line voltage, line construction, and tree species.

PECO uses only professional contractors and requires that they follow American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A300 for tree pruning.  These pruning techniques minimize the potential damage caused to trees.  Pruning of trees in rights-of-ways is done not only by utilities, but also by municipalities and highway departments to maintain roadway clearance, sidewalk clearance, visibility of road signs, traffic lights, etc.

Any tree-pruning program, including those carried out by utilities, municipalities, or homeowners, should follow the same basic principles. PECO's vegetation management contractors adhere to the following practices that are contained in ANSI Standard A300:

  • Removed branches are cut as close as possible to the branch collar without injury or removal of the collar, which is called Natural Target Pruning. This procedure helps promote wound closure and reduce chances for decay.
  • Whenever possible, branches are cut back properly using the 1/3 rule: the branch is cut back to another branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the limb to which it is attached.
  • Limbs that grow away from the wires are retained, allowing the outside portion of the tree to develop its natural shape. This is known as directional method of line clearance.
  • Tree topping and shearing is avoided. Shearing detracts from the natural appearance and promotes decay in branches and the growth of weak, fast-growing water sprouts or sucker growth. These sprouts grow back more quickly and require more frequent pruning.

The pruning of trees near electrical wires can result in injury or death. Only persons trained and qualified in the special techniques needed to work safely around energized lines should do so.

Since 1984, PECO has and continues to install lines underground in new construction developments.  Despite being extremely expensive, and sometimes costing several times more than overhead construction, an underground line is not problem-free for trees. During construction tree roots may be cut.  Cutting tree roots can lead to tree decline or death or may cause a tree to uproot in high winds. Future maintenance of underground lines may also cause damage to existing tree roots, landscape plantings, and lawns.

PECO participates in the Municipal Tree Restoration Program (MTRP) in cooperation with Penn State University.  MTRP is a grant available to municipalities and community groups to assist with tree planting.  The grant application form can be downloaded(+).

PECO is a recipient of the Tree Line USA(+) award from the Arbor Day Foundation(+).

PECO participates in National Arbor Day tree planting events each year.

Herbicides control targeted undesirable or incompatible plant species.  PECO employs only professional State Certified applicators to control unwanted vegetation under its power lines and on its rights-of-way so that it won't grow into the power lines, causing interruptions in electrical service.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves these products for use only after determining they will not adversely affect people, animals, or the environment when applied correctly.

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