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Tree Trimming and Planting in the City

Why Does the Utilities Trim Trees?

Often, we take our utility services for granted because they have become a part of our daily lives. For us to enjoy the convenience of reliable, uninterrupted service, distribution systems are required to bring utilities into our homes. Providing our customers with safe, reliable and affordable power is a primary goal for the Sturgeon Bay Utilities. These services arrive at our homes through overhead or underground lines. Overhead lines can be either electric, telephone, or cable television. Underground lines include these three plus water, sewer, and natural gas. The location of these lines should have a direct impact on your tree and planting site selection. The ultimate mature height of a tree to be planted must be within the available overhead growing space. Just as important, the soil area must be large enough to accommodate the particular rooting habits and ultimate trunk diameter of the tree. Proper tree and site selection will provide trouble-free beauty and pleasure for years to come. Fallen trees and branches are a major cause of widespread power outages after a wind or ice storm. Flickering and dimming lights can be caused by tree limbs rubbing or laying against the electric lines. An aggressive tree-trimming and right-of-way maintenance program for power lines is crucial to the Utility's mission of delivering reliable electric power to the consumer and maintaining the integrity of the power system.



How Will the Trees Look When Pruned?
The trees will be trimmed according to where the electric lines are located. Some examples of how trees may be trimmed are to the right.

How Trees Are Pruned
The Utility prunes trees based on a technique called “directional pruning.” This technique was developed by the National Arborist Association, approved by the American National Standards Institute, and adopted by the pruning industry as the standard. The Utility also uses Dr. Alex Shigo’s guide, Pruning Trees near Electric Utility Lines as a reference.

With directional pruning, entire limbs or portions of limbs growing toward the lines are removed at the main branch or trunk. They are removed at a point where they would naturally shed if they had cause. By doing this, future growth will be directed away from the wires, and rapidly growing attached sprouts will be minimized. The Utility follows a pattern of trimming known as circuit trimming. This means the trees are trimmed along an electric circuit. Trimming is also done in “hot spots.” This is when there is a limb laying or rubbing against an electric line and causing problems. Sturgeon Bay Utilities trim’s trees on a yearly schedule.

Determining where to plant a tree is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Many factors should be considered prior to planting. When planning what type of tree to plant, remember to look up and look down to determine where the tree will be located in realtion to overhead and underground utility lines. Trees that grow no taller than twenty-five feet and planted outside fifteen feet on either side of the poles is the proper distance. Small trees that can be planted near power lines include dogwoods, redbuds, crepe myrtles, and holly.

Planting Near and Around Transformers

Any obstructions, defined as fencing, shrubs, trees, vines, flowers, and any other materials or objects placed around the underground transformer by residents, which hinder the ability of the Utility to adequately and safely service, repair or inspect the transformer is prohibited. Fencing, shrubbery, etc. is allowed in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • The front of the transformer must be free of any obstructing material so that it is clearly visible.
  • Plantings or fencing may be placed around two sides and the back provided that a 5’ clearance must be maintained.
  • Trees planted within 15’ of the transformer may eventually require removal if tree roots or foliage hinder service or maintenance of the transformer.
  • The front of the transformer must be free of any obstructing material so that it is clearly visible.
  • The top of the transformer must be completely unobstructed.
  • Any shrubs or bushes planted must not be of a variety which bear thorns or sharp protrusions of any kind or any variety of running vine, i.e. ivy which will grow over the transformer.
  • Contacting Sturgeon Bay Utilities before planting is encouraged.
  • Obstructions found by repair or inspection crews will be removed without notice to the resident.


Incorrect Planting Around Transformers

Proper Landscaping Around Transformers

For more information regarding tree trimming and landscaping around transformers, contact the Sturgeon Bay Utilities at (920) 746-2820.

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