Trees Planted This Weekend Could Cause Future Problems

With the arrival of Memorial Weekend this Friday, many of you will use the long weekend to complete landscaping projects. Trees are a beautiful addition to any landscape, and they have a number of practical benefits. For example, trees can help clean the air by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and they can help lower heating and cooling costs by sheltering buildings from the sun and wind. However, trees that grow too close to power lines can cause power outages and life-threatening injuries.

Trees are a contributing factor in 50% of power outages. These outages may occur suddenly (branches breaking due to heavy winds or an ice storm), or over time with normal growth. Trees growing near power lines present a real threat to children who may be tempted to climb them, and to homeowners who try to trim them; tree limbs and branches that come in contact with power lines may become energized.

Before you dig into yard work, be sure to call 811 to locate underground utilities.

When planting trees, consider the potential impact various trees may have on nearby power lines. While no trees should be planted near high-voltage transmission lines, many trees (under normal conditions) will not grow tall enough to interfere with distribution lines. The following species are attractive options for your landscape and grow to mature heights of 20 feet or less:

  • Crabapple
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Hawthorne
  • Bristlecone Pine
  • Common Juniper
  • Trident, Amur, Paperback, and Tartarian Maples
  • Rose Acacia

Tall species, such as oak and spruce, some maple, and most varieties of pine, should not be planted closer than 60 feet to distribution lines. By choosing the right type of tree, you can add beauty to your surroundings and help the environment, while helping to ensure power reliability and safety.

Our Forestry Department performs line-clearing activities in an effort to ensure safe and reliable electric service for our customers. At the same time, we do our best to minimize the impact of our efforts on trees and shrubs. To learn more about Consumers Energy’s line-clearing program and our minimum clearance requirements, or for tree and shrub planting tips, please visit our website.

This article previously appeared in the Consumers Energy Solution Center newsletter, and is used with permission.