5 Questions on Tree Trimming with SaskPower Arborist Blake Neufeld

June 13, 2016

Blake Neufeld Featured
Safe and reliable service is our first priority. When trees contact power lines, it causes power outages and safety hazards for customers and our employees. We sat down with SaskPower Arborist Blake Neufeld to ask him about our tree trimming process and what you can do to stay safe in your home and yard.
  1. Why does a power company trim trees?

    Not only are trees dangerous when they're touching the lines, but they're also a big cause of power outages. In fact, trees cause about 1,000 outages each year in Saskatchewan.

  2. I have a tree touching a line in my yard. What do I do?

    First thing's first  don't try to trim the tree yourself. Call us at 1-888-757-6937 and we'll come have a look. When you do call, be sure to describe what you're seeing, whether the branch is touching the service line (from the pole to the house) or the primary line (the top line on a power pole). Be sure to provide your full name, address, town, phone and email. If you can take some pictures, that's even better, but keep your distance from the line!

  3. Okay, I called SaskPower about my tree. What happens next?

    Our crews will come out as soon as they are able, assess the situation and advise you of next steps. We can trim the branches, free-of-charge.

    If the tree has caused an outage, our crew's first priority is to trim the branch and get the power back on. We'll take away the branches if we are able to.

    Sometimes the whole tree might have to be removed if it's damaged or if it's an ongoing threat to the power line. We're happy to work with the qualified contractor you hire to make sure everyone is safe around the power line during the removal.

  4. Are the SaskPower tree trimmers qualified to do this work?

    We have tree-trimming crews spread out across the province. These crews are made-up of trained arborists whose job is to clear trees back from SaskPower equipment. They trim enough that they shouldn't have to do it again for roughly five years.

    These crews will also identify possible risks when they're out in the field. In most cases  except emergencies  we try our best to speak with customers before trimming their trees. If we miss you at your home, we'll leave a door hanger with an explanation and a contact number. If we do not hear back from you, we will proceed with the work. Most of the time we will take away the trimmings and put them through our wood-chipper  unless it's an outage situation. Our power line crews, not our tree trimming maintenance crews, deal with urgent situations like an outage and they aren't generally equipped to dispose of branches.

  5. I'm planting some trees. How far away should they be from the overhead lines? What about underground lines?

    We always say to plant the right tree in the right place to avoid problems down the road. Know how tall the tree you are buying will get and never plant any tree near the power line that will exceed 6 metres (20 feet).

    Low-growing shrubs are the best choice for planting under overhead power lines. If you are looking to plant something close to our overhead lines. Lilac bushes or ornamental crab apple trees are two good choices because they don't get that tall but still provide privacy.

    Avoid poplar trees near power lines. They are very common because they grow fast, but they also grow tall and cause trouble when the branches start touching the power line or they break off and fall into the power line.

    Also, keep underground power lines in mind. In neighbourhoods with underground lines, power and gas lines are buried in the back three metres of your yard (AKA the "easement"). If you plant anything in the easement area, we may have to dig it up one day to access the lines and this makes our work difficult. Roots can also grow around the lines, causing safety issues and outages.

    Always visit Sask1stCall online or call 1-866-828-4888 before you dig so you know where underground utility lines are located.

Quotables:

"First thing's first – don't try to trim the tree yourself. Call us at 1-888-757-6937 and we'll come have a look."

"In most cases – except emergencies – we try our best to speak with customers before trimming their trees. If we miss you at your home, we'll leave a door hanger with an explanation and a contact number."

"We always say to plant the right tree in the right place to avoid problems down the road. Know how tall the tree you are buying will get and never plant any tree near the power line that will exceed 6 metres (20 feet)."

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