Vegetation Management

Tree Trimming Program

Although trees are beautiful and provide many benefits to the environment, they can also be dangerous and create power outages.  Cleveland Utilities is held accountable to provide its customers with a safe and reliable source of electrical energy. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to trim trees endangering the safe and reliable operation of the power system. Trees contacting power lines can give electrical current a path to ground, which can create a potential hazard.  They also account for a large number of power outages when they grow into or fall on power lines. Therefore, Cleveland Utilities maintains a proactive tree trimming program on a three-year trimming cycle to ensure reliable power for our valued customers. What this means is if your trees are trimmed this year, baring storms or other emergencies, they should not need trimming for another three years. There is no charge for this service to customers. 

Cleveland Utilities has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Line USA utility since 2000.  Tree Line USA recognizes utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests.  Additionally, Tree Line USA promotes the dual goals of delivering safe and reliable electricity while maintaining healthy community trees.   

We strive to provide safe and reliable electric service to all of our customers and our vegetation management program is a very important component of that.  Responsible tree pruning aids everyone in our community. 

CU’s Utility Forester
Cleveland Utilities has a certified utility forester on staff to ensure best practices in tree trimming are followed for the health of the trees and the reliability of the power system.

CU’s Tree Contractor
Cleveland Utilities only contracts with qualified tree companies who meet our guidelines and specifications.  Our current tree contractor is Wolf Tree, Inc.  

Notice: We will let you know when we are coming for scheduled trimming.  At least two weeks in advance, CU will send a letter informing you that we will be pruning trees in your area.  We will also install a door hanger just prior to the onset of the work that shows the required line clearances.

Trimming Method
CU exercises the “lateral” pruning method, which is recommended by the National Arbor Day Foundation, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and other professional organizations. These methods include removing the tree branch to the closest lateral branch growing away from the power line, thus leaving no stub to decay. This method helps healing around the pruning site and strengthen branches. Along with lateral pruning, we also utilize directional pruning which redirects new growth away from the power lines. Lateral pruning has been the standard practice in the tree industry for many years, is also healthier for trees than other methods, and helps protect them from decay. Often, customers request for their tree to be “rounded over.”  Regretfully, we can only prune in the legally recognized power clearance zone, and cannot trim outside our delegated space. Research shows “rounding” encourages decay and promotes unhealthy sprouting.  When the “rounding over” method is used, the sprouts tend to grow faster than normal, creating weak branches that are more likely to break. 

Clearance Distances
CU maintains a minimum 10 foot utility maintenance clearance zone around all distribution lines and a 25 foot utility maintenance clearance zone around all high voltage transmission lines, as detailed in ANSI and OSHA standards.

Service Lines
CU does not prune trees growing near service lines (the line that delivers electricity from the street to your home).  The service line is the property owner's responsibility.  CU crews will disconnect those lines during normal working hours at your request when you want to remove or trim a tree near them and then will reconnect the lines once the work is completed. We do not charge a fee for this service.  A 24-hour notice is required.  Call (423) 478-9315 to request assistance with this process. 

Tree Removal
CU may remove trees that are dead, dying, or a hazard to CU facilities, as solely determined by CU’s Utility Forester. 

Property Owner Options
Property owners may wish to have their tree(s) trimmed in a specific manner. They have the option of hiring, at their expense, a private, professional tree contractor to complete the desired work.  Any private contractor work performed within the utility maintenance clearance zone must conform to the aforementioned Cleveland Utilities clearance guidelines, and be completed prior to our contract crews leaving the circuit area.

During routine trimming and removal, all brush and limbs that can safely pass through the drum chipper will be ground up and hauled away by Cleveland Utilities’ tree clearance contractor.  Any and all remaining wood and sawdust will be left on site and will be the responsibility of the property owner for disposal. Large wood will generally be cut into manageable, varying lengths by the line clearance contractor’s personnel. The lengths and weights of the remaining wood sections must not exceed that which the City has the ability to handle with their debris removal equipment.  For tree removals, the stump will be left in place and will be the responsibility of the property owner.

Please be aware that CU does not typically remove brush, debris, or trees that fall during storms or by other natural causes, even if we have to saw through a downed tree to repair service. During storm events, our primary responsibility is to restore power as quickly as possible. Debris remaining from storm restoration or other emergencies is the responsibility of the property owner to dispose of.

If you see vegetation that you feel compromises or is a danger to the power lines, please contact us immediately and we will be happy to send someone to assess the situation.  Our 24/7 call center can be reached at 423-472-4521.