Tree Trimming

Can you offer any advice for planting trees to avoid being in conflict with power lines?
  • Remember, before you plant a tree, look up for power lines and call the *Call Before You Dig* toll-free line (800) 332-2344 to locate any buried lines.
  • Be sure to select a good quality tree that is free from damage or disease. Fall is generally considered the best time to plant.
  • The hole should be no deeper than the height of the root ball, and the width of the hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball.
  • Remove any string or twine or burlap that might interfere with the tree’s normal development. Also, remember to cut any encircling roots that might girdle the tree.
  • When backfilling the hole, use the soil removed from the hole without the addition of any amendments such as peat moss or potting soil. The soil should be tamped down firmly, but not to the point of compaction.
  • Apply two to four inches of mulch to the surface surrounding the tree to help retain moisture, but do not pile the mulch up against the trunk of the tree.
  • Water thoroughly and repeat when rainfall is absent for more than a week.
What if I have a complaint about your tree trimming policies or procedures?

Customer and property owner complaints regarding any aspect of the vegetation management program will be addressed promptly, fairly, and professionally. Contractor crew leaders will notify UEC’s right-of-way supervisor of customer or property owner complaints on the day received. UEC’s right-of-way supervisor or designated employee will contact the complaining party within 10 business days of receipt of the complaint.

When is it necessary to remove a tree?

In some cases, Umatilla Electric Cooperative may have to remove trees that we deem a high risk to electrical service or to the general public. Fast growing trees under power lines, those that require pruning more than every four years can interfere with electrical service and cause power outages. A contractor from Umatilla Electric Cooperative will notify the homeowner regarding the need for removal.

May we have those chips?

Yes. Wood chips are generated from trees that have been trimmed. These wood chips are available to customers, and can be delivered at your request when tree crews are in your area.

These wood chips consist of multiple tree species, are irregular in shape and color, and can include some twigs and rakings. For more information call Umatilla Electric Cooperative at (541) 567-6414 or toll-free (800) 452-2273

Can I prune trees myself?

Never attempt to prune trees near power lines yourself. Only qualified line clearance tree contractors are allowed to work within a minimum of 10 feet of high voltage lines. If there is any question, call Umatilla Electric Cooperative at (541) 567-6414 for an inspection of your tree and line situation.

Phone and cable company lines, those usually found in the lowest position on a pole, do not have clearance requirements, because they do not carry any significant electrical current.

How does Umatilla Electric Cooperative decide when to prune?

We have a routine maintenance program for trees and brush growth around power lines. In cases where tree conditions are worse, a line that begins to show an unusual number of tree-related outages may be trimmed sooner than originally anticipated.

How can the public help to reduce the frequency of outages?

First, understand that Umatilla Electric Cooperative trims trees as a service to our customers as an integral part of our goal to provide you with safe, reliable electric service. Second, try to keep an open mind when our line clearance crews explain why trimming is occurring. Finally, by allowing our contractor to use the proper trimming techniques, your trees remain healthy, and the re-growth from the tree will tend to interfere less with power lines.

Why can’t you put the line underground?

In older neighborhoods with overhead lines, placing lines underground is difficult and expensive. Many trees are already well established. Placing power lines underground would require Umatilla Electric Cooperative to dig into the roots of the trees, possibly causing immediate harm and making them susceptible to disease.

Converting overhead facilities to underground requires considerable trenching of existing pavement, roads, or other structures. Placing lines underground can cost many times more than what it costs to install power lines overhead.

Why can’t you shape trees while trimming them clear of lines?

The directional pruning method we use is endorsed by the International Society of Arboriculture. Directional pruning, also known as lateral trimming, removes only those branches that conflict with power lines. Rather than cutting limbs back to unsightly and unnatural stubs, branches are pruned back to the center of the trunk where trees normally shed them. Future tree growth is directed away from the power lines.

Directionally pruned trees are less susceptible to disease and insects, and the overall structure of the tree is stronger and more resistant to high winds and ice. Although the shape has been altered, it is recommended over topping or rounding of trees, which tends to promote quick re-growth of small, weakly attached shoots. We are in the business of providing you with safe, reliable power, and we have a responsibility to do that in an environmentally sound way.