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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, January 20, 2008

We Floridians love our trees.  From the live oaks of the Panhandle to the royal palms of South Florida, our trees provide shade, fruit, and beauty.  Trees help cool our homes, increase our property values, conserve water, control erosion, and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

While we love our trees, we also love reliable electric and telephone service.  Sometimes our beloved trees interfere with the lines that provide the utility services necessary to modern life.  Maintaining the balance between healthy, attractive trees and reliable utility service is the cooperative duty of both the property owner and the utility company.

Property Owner's Responsibilities

Proper tree selection is the first step to ensure that conflicts between vegetation and utility lines are minimized.  Do some research before planting a tree.  Find out how tall and how wide-spread the tree's branches will be when it's mature.  If the tree grows into the lines and requires pruning, it may compromise the health or beauty of the tree.

Start your research at the Web site of the International Society of Arboriculture, which has a brochure entitled Avoiding Tree & Utility Conflicts.  The National Arbor Day Foundation also has information on its Web site about planting the right tree in the right location.

Utility Company's Responsibilities

It is the utility company's responsibility to establish a vegetation control program that ensures safe, reliable service.   Therefore, utility companies attempt to trim vegetation that has grown, or is about to grow, into its lines.  Florida Public Service Commission rules do not specify to what extent this trimming may, or must, be done.  

Most utilities have adopted pruning techniques developed by the Tree Care Industry Association and approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  These techniques focus on removing intruding branches at a natural point, which causes the least harm to the tree and the most protection to the utility line.