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Trees and other vegetation cause about 13% of all electric service interruptions. Preventive pruning around aerial power lines is vital to providing reliable electric service.
Our vegetation management crews are trained in proper arboricultural pruning techniques and take into account the species, growth rate and location of the tree in relation to overhead wires. Other factors such as the health of the tree, site conditions, and regulatory requirements also guide our assessment prior to any trimming project.
Trimming trees near power lines is dangerous. BGE contractors are specially trained to work in close proximity to electrical conductors. Please contact us when planning to do any tree trimming work near electrical conductors and we will advise you of options to work safely. Additional information is located on the Tree Trimming tab.
BGE maintains two distinct types of electric rights-of-way. Electric transmission rights-of-way carry power from power generation stations to substations; electric distribution rights-of-way carry power from substations to customers.
BGE performs routine tree and vegetation maintenance in four-year cycles, and also performs some mid-cycle work where trees are especially fast growing, or where other problems may result in interruptions to electric service.
Electric utility pruning is often perceived differently from other types of pruning. Utility pruning in proximity to electric distribution equipment presents certain electrical hazards. Objectives, tools and methods used in common pruning projects are also used in electric utility pruning in urban and suburban environments. Utility arborists are expected to adhere to the same professional standards as other arborists.
BGE’s licensed and certified vegetation management (VM) professionals direct the work performed by our vegetation management field forces. Field forces are contractor personnel who perform the daily activities such as tree pruning and the mowing of low-growing vegetation. These personnel receive periodic training about safety and vegetation management practices and work under the daily oversight of qualified foresters, arborists, and tree experts so that work is performed according to BGE and industry standards, and in adherence with all laws and regulations. Many of our work crews have personnel with fluency in English and Spanish, ensuring that language is not a barrier to providing a quality work product.
The work is performed in accordance with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard A300, Part 1: Tree, Shrub, and Other Woody Plant Maintenance – Standard Practices, Pruning.
BGE performs directional pruning to provide clearance from wires to promote safety and reliability. This method is designed to encourage the tree to grow away from the electric lines and has been adopted as a national standard (ANSI A300, Part 1) and the International Society of Arboriculture recognizes it as a Best Management Practice. Directional pruning allows BGE to consider the characteristics of each tree when determining the extent of pruning needed. The pruning clearances to which we hold our contractors are based on the growth rate and mature size and shape of each tree, the location of the tree in relation to the power line, the type of utility facility, and a cycle length of 4 years.
CORRECT: Directional pruning guides the growth of the tree away from the wires.
INCORRECT: The "topping" or "rounding over" of trees can cause a flush of fast growing sprouts that grow directly back into the wires. Find out further information about how to avoid tree and utility conflicts by visiting the International Society of Arboriculture's website. Additional information about reducing tree and utility conflicts is available on the Arbor Day Foundation website.
Powering lives begins with a journey that transports high-voltage electricity from power generation stations, to substations that “step down” the voltage to a level that can be distributed to your home. BGE maintains more than 540 miles of high-voltage transmission lines that range from 230kV to 500kV.Transmission rights-of-way (ROW) are typically identified by large steel poles or tower structures that are used to transport high-voltage electricity across large distances. BGE owns or has express property rights to perform vegetation management in transmission corridors. BGE manages these rights of way through a variety of methods to ensure electric reliability and safety within a sustainable, biodiverse habitat. A sustainable habitat is comprised of native plants that will enhance environment for pollinators and other beneficial insects and animals.
Federal standards mandate that utilities have a transmission vegetation management program to prevent outages on the transmission system. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC.com) strictly enforces these standards. Failure to meet a vegetation-related, zero-outage mandate can lead to fines of up to $1 million per day for a utility. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has specific guidelines and requirements that electric utilities must meet. Visit the FERC website for more information.
BGE does not allow planting within a transmission right-of-way and will not prune trees or vegetation to maintain their proper height. All such vegetation is removed.
Power outages on electric transmission lines can have far-reaching consequences, such as the loss of power to many thousands of customers, or even regional power blackouts affecting millions. In August 2003, more than 50 million people in the Midwest, Northeast and Ontario, Canada, were affected by a blackout that began when trees came in contact with transmission lines.
Contacting BGE is a required step before planting anything other than grass in an electric transmission right-of-way. BGE encourages the establishment of native [low-growing vegetation] prairie grasses and flowers in a ROW's Wire and Border Zones.
Herbicide usage is a valuable tool for managing vegetation that can compromise the safe and reliable operation of the gas and electric infrastructure. At BGE, EPA-registered herbicides are used to control growth and regrowth of vegetation that is incompatible with overhead and underground utility facilities. Tall-growing and non-native plants that could grow into underground pipes or wires are typically the targets for herbicide treatments. Herbicides used in a utility maintenance program can keep undesirable plants from re-growing and re-populating a location – something that tree or plant removal alone cannot accomplish. Herbicides help desirable plants, such as low-growing flowering plants to grow in a healthier environment versus trees or fast-growing invasive vegetation. Selectively applied, herbicides promote sustainable environments for pollinators and other desirable flora and fauna.
Check out our interactive map of where BGE is performing maintenance.
Background and program.