When a tree gets too comfortable in the proximity of a power line, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Amid severe weather events occurring in the last six months in B.C. from wildfires, thunderstorms, and heavy winds, B.C. Hydro wants to remind the public of the dangers of taking matters into their own hands.
According to B.C. Hydro, the company is responsible for trimming trees near electrical infrastructure that is not on private property. However, homeowners are responsible for keeping the service wires on their property clear of vegetation. This can be achieved by hiring a professional arborist.
A certified utility arborist can be used for any vegetation near transmission or distribution lines within three meters of the service line to their home. Several vegetation contractors can help homeowners to access and safely prune foliage near B.C. Hydro wires.
Trees and adverse weather are the number one cause of power outages in B.C. The province has more trees per kilometer of power line than most in the country, so it is essential to keep vegetation clear from around overhead lines to prevent contact with infrastructure, which can cause outages. The most common hazard is vegetation contacting electrical equipment, causing momentary or more prolonged power interruptions.
“If a homeowner decides to do their tree trimming, we want to remind them to check their surroundings before they start, and if there are power lines nearby, ensure they keep themselves and any tools or ladder they’re using at least three meters away,” said Susie Rieder, Senior Media Relations Advisor at B.C. Hydro.
It is also essential to know how to distinguish a line. There are two main types of power lines in B.C., transmission and distribution.
Distribution lines consist of wires that are supported by utility poles that are around 10 meters high. These poles are most often made of wood and sometimes concrete. Transmission lines carry large quantities of electricity from generating stations to the cities where the electricity is used. Transmission lines are thick and attached to tall steel structures. There are also wooden poles that hold up transmission lines that can sometimes look like those that support distribution lines but are higher.
Because these lines are higher than your home, the wires that go to your home often drop, descending from a higher spot to a lower place. If your home does not have a service drop, it is supplied by similar cables running underground.
B.C. Hydro suggests British Columbians follow safe distance rules that focus on a minimum distance of clearance from persons, equipment, and all parts of the tree. If planting, plan carefully and always remember to call BC1 before digging to locate any underground electrical or other infrastructure.
It is slightly different each year, but places like Vancouver Island, with more trees and storm events, generally experience more power outages each year. However, with more frequent weather events and an increasing population in rural communities, it’s important to be aware of the rules to help mitigate future outages.
To request tree trimming online, go to bc1c.ca or call 604-257-1940 or 1 800 474 6886 for British Columbians outside the Lower Mainland. And for more information on how to stay safe during a power outage, visit, https://www.bchydro.com/safety-outages.